Jesus modeled well for us how we should treat sinners. The SCOTUS decision in the United States, which legalized gay marriage, has brought lots of scathing comments from all sides and an overwhelming amount of questions about how Christians should respond to the culture around us.
The best thing we can do is follow Jesus’ example toward sinners.
How Did Jesus Treat Sinners?
1. Jesus told us not to judge other sinners.
It is hard to love others, and show the gospel to them, when we are angry at them or hating on them.
Anger and hate are not the way of Jesus.
2. Jesus showed mercy to the sinner caught in sin.
One day Jesus was teaching crowds of people in the temple, and religious leaders brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to him and set her in front of the crowd accusing her—asking Jesus what should be done with her.
Jesus does the weirdest thing, something that still leaves Bible experts confounded. He doesn’t respond at first … he literally stoops down and starts writing in the dust on the floor.
They kept demanding an answer, and Jesus finally stood up and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”
Then he stooped down and kept writing in the dust!
One by one, the crowd began to leave. The Scripture says, “beginning with the oldest.” The oldest likely left first because they had realized over the years how weak and vulnerable they were to sin themselves, and how many times they had failed throughout their life to adhere to God’s law.
What was Jesus writing in that dust? It’s almost like Jesus didn’t draw a line in the sand for the sinner. Instead, maybe he was writing the sins of the various religious leaders or crowd members in the dust? Maybe he was pointing out that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) or “if anyone claims to be without sin, they are a liar and the truth is not in them” (1 John 1:8-10).
Either way, weird, right?!
Jesus shows overwhelming, astonishing mercy to this woman caught in sin. His response to her after every single person had left like dogs with their tails caught between their legs, was …
“Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
In a very real sense, Jesus shows overwhelming, astonishing mercy and undeserved grace to sinners, and yet Jesus send the self-righteous scurrying off like dogs with tails caught between their legs.
Jesus doesn’t give her a free-pass to remain in her sin. He tells her to “sin no more.” With another man Jesus encountered, Jesus says, “Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you” (John 5:14).