In John chapter 8 we read about a woman caught “red-handed” in the act of adultery. She’s taken by the religious leaders into the public square. Jesus is charged with her sentencing and after writing in the sand all of her accusers quietly sleek away. We can assume that 12 bustedwhatever Jesus wrote reminded each accuser of their own personal sin in a way that brought shame to them and they realized they too had been caught red-handed. Instead of condemning the woman to be stoned to death according to the law, Jesus forgave her, encouraged her to give up her sinful life, and set her free to return to her friends and family. Shame for our sin should drive us to Christ, not cause us to run from Him. He forgives, heals, and restores. Had the religious leaders felt the shame for their sin, as the woman had, they too could have found forgiveness and restoration. But they rejected Jesus. They avoided their shame and ran from the situation.

Jeremiah puts all Israel into the place of the woman caught red handed. In Jeremiah 2:26, he writes, “As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed: they, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets…” As Mackay points out, “The Hebrew concept of ‘disgrace/shame’ focuses more on the outward loss of status and reputation than on inward feelings. If a thief who has taken another’s property without their knowledge or consent is caught red-handed, or if it is a matter of his being traced at a later stage, he still may not in fact experience the embarrassment and shame he ought to feel about his conduct. However, his personal response does not prevent his situation from being one in which the clear evidence of his improper act leads to a loss of reputation and standing within society.”[1]

No one feels the shame associated with sexual sin today. That which brought shame to the woman of John chapter 8, is nearly gone from our society. Adultery and other more rancid sexual sins are publicly applauded on TV, movies, and the media as a whole. Yet, there is no shame. Jeremiah is going to point this out specifically in Jeremiah 8:12. He writes, “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush” (Jer. 8:12, niv). Wiersbe wraps up his comments on this section by saying, “Words and actions that would have made earlier generations blush in shame are today part of the normal ‘entertainment’ diet of the average TV viewer. When a nation turns sin into entertainment and laughs at what ought to make us weep, we are in desperate need of revival.”[2] Israel during Jeremiah’s day was in desperate need of revival. It didn’t come!

[1] John L. Mackay, Jeremiah: An Introduction and Commentary: Chapters 1–20, vol. 1, Mentor Commentaries (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2004), 160.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Heroic, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: ChariotVictor Pub., 1997), 51–52.