5 Aug 2022

“Go in Shalom”: Jesus’s Priestly Words to a “Scandalous” Woman

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Church, Contemporary Ethics, Grace, Jesus, Love
Biblical “fact checkers” verdict on this meme is it is partly true and mostly false because of seriously missing context! The posters of the meme exempt themselves from Proverbs 6.16-19.

Go in Shalom.” Those are the radical words from Jesus to a woman of shocking reputation while sitting at Simon’s table.


We disciples, it seems to me, often try to circumvent our own doctrine. We have select sins that are (seemingly) perfectly “kosher.” Most of the “Seven Deadly Sins” (Proverbs 6.16-19) are routinely found in most Evangelical/Restorationist churches.

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community

But when we find a person struggling with “sins” we do not like (or simply do not live in our approved manner) such as “homosexuality” we pop out the slogan, Jesus said “go and sin no more.”

In my experience this sloganizing is usually a thinly veiled effort at self-justification for our harshness and lack of compassion (empathy is often not on the radar screen). Indeed, we often do come off as if we hate the “sinner.” They are the “sinners.” They are the ones in need of repentance. They are out of step with God. They are the ones who hate God’s word. They are the ones that need change.

Never us. Never me.

The point of the Scriptures are not so I can tell everyone else they need to repent. Rather the point is to reveal the depths of my own sin and radical need of God’s mercy.

It isn’t that we do not know what the Scripture says. But we, like when the Bible scholar when asked about the Greatest Command said, “well then, just who is my neighbor.” He, like us, actually knew the answer. But he, like us, wants to get around the ethic of living that Scripture.

It is not my job, and never has been, to decide if your sin is more disgusting to God than mine (that is if we admit we are indeed dripping in sin). But it is worth noting that in the Seven Things that God “hates” (Proverbs 6.16f) arrogance, lying, and discord are all mentioned but adultery, fornication, homosexuality (etc) are not. I am not saying those are not sin rather the point is that we cozy up with the very things God is said to hate. We can add racism, sexism, love of money, being overfed and unconcerned for the poor, you know the real sin of Sodom.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:
She and her daughters were arrogant,
overfed and unconcerned;
they did not help the poor and needy
(Ezekiel 16.49)

What about “Go and Sin No More?”

So what about that phrase “go and sin no more.” We do find it in a story presently located in John 7.53-8.11. The saying is in 8.11.

Just for the sake of truth, this text is a textual variant. Every modern translation tells you that John 7.53-8.11 is not original to the Gospel of John. Most translations will have an extended note similar to this one in the NIV.

[The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53—8:11.
A few manuscripts include these verses, wholly or in part, after John 7:36, John 21:25, Luke 21:38 or Luke 24:53.]

The 2011 NIV places the passage as a whole in italics. It is a great story and many scholars believe it is an actual event in the life of Jesus. One of the many stories of Jesus that never made it into a Gospel. It is interesting that none of the Church Fathers seem to know the story for several hundred years after the Ascension. It is a good story. I love it. I think it illustrates well the compassion of Jesus. But John did not write it.

But before Jesus, first says to this woman, says to the men “you without sin can cast the first stone.” After a few moments he said to the woman, “where are your accusers?” They fled. Then Jesus said, “neither do I condemn you.

One wonders if those who post memes, such as the one accompanying this article, realize the we do not have a leg to stand on when we post such things.

What did Jesus Do? Go in Shalom …

Well in Luke 7.36-50 we find Jesus at a church man’s house, Simon. At lunch, some woman came off the street and started playing with Jesus’s feet. She even undid her hair, rubbing locks of her hair all over his feet as she caressed his feet with her lips (7.45).

Beloved reader, it is difficult to state just how outrageously shocking this story is in the first century. We have sanitized this story to the point of it being unrecognizable. But it was no pious moment. It was interpreted as absolute proof Jesus was a fraud.

If this happened in John MacArthur’s/John Piper’s church or Eastside, they would die of a heart attack. If this episode happened to any modern preacher, and he did not speak up and stop her, he would be looking elsewhere for a job. The people would drag her out by the hair in unbridled indignation. It is not strange that Simon and everyone else is scandalized.

Simon condemned Jesus in his heart. The crowd did too. Why? Because this woman’s reputation had proceeded her. They responded as many of us today. They condemned her.

But Jesus says this woman “whose sins are MANY” (7.47) was forgiven.

She never even asked!

Then Jesus said a phrase like John 8.11 but one word is significantly different, “Your faith has saved you; go in PEACE/shalom” (7.50). Jubilee has been announced to this woman. Not a Jew present would have missed the “priestly” blessing Jesus pronounces upon this woman. Her world has been reframed. Go in Shalom!

Then Jesus made it absolutely clear that Simon and the woman were the same.

This nameless woman is just one of a long line of biblical women that are often judged by men. We have no idea from the text what kind of woman she was. Simon regarded her as a “sinner” (7.39). The text though does not say she was just a fornicator or adulterous. She could just as easily have been a woman who had been divorced or widowed and had no way of actually living except her body (in fact I suspect this is the case with her). We need to remember such stories as Tamar (Genesis 38), Rahab (Joshua 2), Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12), the woman at the well (John 4), etc, not one received a word of rebuke (much less condemnation). Rather, each received a word of grace in the graceless world they lived in.

God surely wants us to go and sin no more. We are to be renewed in mind and sanctified in the Spirit. But it is not my job to determine whether a person is doing that sufficiently or not. Most of us are Simon, unaware that we need to be forgiven as much as the shameless woman. But she received the priestly blessing, he did not (see the Jubilee parable Jesus tells Simon in the middle of the story, 7.40-43).

In my life, when I see someone embrace God’s astonishing grace, I have cultivated the habit of saying,

your faith has saved you,
go in SHALOM

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