John 8 Lesson

Mercy and compassion

Today’s lesson is on the important subjects of mercy and compassion.

As you read about the woman that committed adultery in chapter 8, notice the compassion that Jesus had for her.   Then think about how the light shines brightest in the darkness.   It is when people are most vulnerable that our mercy and compassion can have the greatest impact.  

Jesus did not distance Himself from the world, or from those that are trapped in sin. Instead, He showed them compassion, talked to them, and encouraged them to sin no more.   The world would do well to follow the example of Jesus and look for opportunities to show compassion and not judgment.  

The woman that had been caught in adultery had plenty of people judging her.   In fact, they were ready to stone her to death when Jesus stepped in and said:

  • “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7. 

Nobody threw a stone because they all had sinned.

Jesus asks the woman:

  • “Where are they? Did no one condemn you?” – John 8:10. 

She said:

  • “No one, Lord.” – John 8:11.

Of course, Jesus already knew what her answer would be.   He was positioning Himself to be able to show her mercy in a way that she would never forget.   Jesus said to the woman:

  • “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” – John 8:11.

Can you imagine this sequence of events from the point of view of the woman?

  1. The Bible says that the woman was not only caught in adultery, she was literally caught during the act itself.
  2. Adultery under the Old Law was a sin punishable by death by stoning.
  3. As she prepares herself for certain and painful death, somebody steps in to help her.
  4. She rightly refers to Jesus as, “Lord,” and then He tells her that she is not condemned!

This must have been such a relief for the woman.   To not only be saved from violent death, but to be told that there is still time to get her soul right with God.

It is interesting that the next section in chapter 8 is entitled, “Jesus is the Light of the World.”   Many people with no authority want to judge people and condemn them.   Jesus has ALL the authority (Mathew 28:18), and He shows the woman mercy and compassion.  

It is the example of Jesus that we are to follow.   His mercy and compassion are the behaviors that we want to emulate.

All of us know how healing it feels to be forgiven for something wrong that we have done.   Jesus shows us not to judge, but instead to have compassion.   It comes down to justice versus mercy. We all want mercy when we are talking about ourselves.   However, do we show the same type of mercy that Jesus displayed when we are talking about others that have sinned or fallen short?

Mathew 6:15 states:

  • “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” 

We have everything to gain by forgiving others, and everything to lose by condemning them.

As we read through the remainder of John's Gospel, the Pharisees will continue to challenge Jesus and seek to harm Him.   Jesus does not let their sinful behavior affect what He says and does.   Neither should we!    The world may call for judgment and punishment, but as Christians, we are to offer mercy and compassion.

The humility that Jesus displayed, along with the love for His Father, convinced many people that day to believe in Him.   John writes:

  • “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.” – John 8:30.

So what does this mean to us and what actions can we take based on what we have read?

We can do as Jesus did, and show people mercy, not judgment.   We can offer our compassion, our encouragement, and our support.  

The greatest thing that we can do is to share with others the story of Jesus!  Knowing that they have a loving and merciful Savior is what people need to help them turn around their lives and turn away (repent) from sin.  

We will conclude today’s study by reflecting on the following two verses:

  • “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” - John 1:5.

  • “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” - John 8:12.


Virtual Bible Study

Does anybody have a testimony on the subject of mercy and compassion that they would be willing to share?

Click To View The Discussion
Virtual Bible Study

Does anybody have a testimony on the subject of mercy and compassion that they would be willing to share?


Jesus didn't just say, "Don't worry about it" though. He forgave her and then told her to sin no more. I think that's the message. We are forgiven through Jesus' blood, but we are not to continue in our sin. Repent means to turn away. We need to change our sinful behavior to stay in God's graces.


It's important to show mercy and not judgement, because the way that we treat others with respect to mercy and judgment is the way we will be treated by God. At least that's how I interpret the scripture.


Forgiveness is such a powerful thing. I remember carrying around anger for many years and then one day being able to forgive this person. I felt so much better, and I was obeying God's commands. Ever since then, I have worked at being quick to forgive and slow to anger.