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Look beneath the surface, so you can judge correctly (John 7:24)

Jesus loves to make impromptu stops! And He will stop for just one person; he did for the Samaritan woman at the well. “He left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way” (John 4:4, NLT). What appeared to be an ordinary journey on an ordinary day was a purposed encounter with the woman at the well. We know how the story went: She came to draw water from the well at noontime when the wells were more likely to be deserted. Some speculate that she was trying to avoid the morning crowd because she had a reputation. But it was an appointed encounter. She tried to argue theology with Him, but Jesus offered her the opportunity of a lifetime, saying, “The time is coming – indeed it’s here now – when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24, NLT). She embraced the promise of everlasting life, went back home to spread the good news she had just received, and became an instant evangelist.

Jesus stopped for another woman, the one who was caught in the act of adultery and who was about to be stoned according to Mosaic Law. The day before this encounter, Jesus had left the Temple where He faced hostile questioning and treatment from the religious leaders and the masses and returned to the Mount of Olives; yet, that morning, He went back to the Temple. I believe He knew an encounter was about to take place. It turned out that His accusers were the woman’s accusers as well. They mocked His claim to be the long-awaited Messiah and wanted a showdown. They were probably thinking, “let us set this imposter up by testing His adherence to Mosaic Law. The way He responds to this situation will reveal if He is who He says He is.” Jesus used this instance to teach about secret and open sins. He asked that any of the woman’s accusers, who was without sin, cast the first stone. Every single one of them dropped their stone and walked away.

Yes, this woman was caught in an apparent sin, but Jesus was equally concerned about the hidden sins in her accusers’ hearts. Those sins needed to be equally judged. According to the Scriptures, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); therefore, we all need to be saved from the penalty of sin which is judgment by a Holy God. This is why Jesus came: He who knew no sin took our sins upon Himself so that we would not have to pay the penalty ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus is no respecter of persons. He will extend the same mercy to us that he showed the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery. He will stop for you, too, even in the midst of an ordinary day. Are you ready to engage with Him?


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