The gracious verdict

"Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more!" (John 8:1)

How much more tender is Jesus — than the tenderest of earthly friends! The Apostles, in a moment of irritation, would have called down fire from heaven on obstinate sinners — but their Master rebuked the unkind suggestion.

Peter, the trusted but treacherous disciple, expected nothing but harsh and merited reproof for faithlessness — but He who knew well how that heart would be bowed with penitential sorrow, sends first the kindest of messages, and then the gentlest of rebukes — "Do you love Me?"

The watchmen in the Song of Solomon smote the bride, tore off her veil, and loaded her with reproaches — but when she found her lost Lord, there was not one word of upbraiding from Him! "So slow is He to anger," says an illustrious believer, "so ready to forgive, that when His prophets lost all patience with the people so as to make intercession against them — yet even then, He could not cast off His people whom He foreknew, for His great Name's sake."

The guilty sinner to whom He speaks this comforting "word" above, was frowned upon by her accusers. But, if others spurned her from their presence, "Neither do I condemn you," Well it is to fall into the hands of this blessed Savior-God, for great are His mercies!

Are we to infer from this, that He merely winks at sin? Far from it! His blood, His work — Bethlehem, and Calvary, refute the thought! Before the guilt even of one solitary soul could be washed out — He had to descend from His everlasting throne to agonize on the accursed tree. But this "word of Jesus" is a word of tender encouragement to every sincere, broken-hearted penitent — that crimson sins, and scarlet sins — are no barrier to a free, full, everlasting forgiveness.

The Israelite of old, gasping in his agony in the sands of the wilderness, had but to "look — and live!" And still does He say, "Look unto Me — and be saved, all the ends of the earth!" Upreared by the side of His own cross there was a monumental column for all time, only second to itself in wonder.

Over the head of the dying felon is the superscription written for despairing guilt and trembling penitence, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." "He never yet," says Charnock, "put out a dim candle that was lighted at the Sun of Righteousness." "Whatever our guiltiness is," says Rutherford, "yet when it falls into the sea of God's mercy, it is but like a drop of blood fallen into the great ocean!"

Reader, you may be the chief of sinners — or it may be the chief of backsliders; your soul may have veered astray like an arrow from a broken bow. As the bankrupt is afraid to look into his books — so you may be afraid to look into your own heart! You are hovering on the verge of despair. Conscience, and the memory of unnumbered sins, is uttering the desponding verdict, "I condemn you!" Jesus has a kinder word — a more cheering declaration, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more!" "And all wondered at the gracious WORDS that proceeded out of His mouth!"


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