“Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them. The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?’ They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, ‘The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.’ Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. ‘Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?’ ‘No one, Master.’ ‘Neither do I,’ said Jesus. ‘Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.’ John 8:1-12
Jesus once again addressed them: ‘I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.’
This verse started off Melissa’s teaching to the high school all girls’ camp. "Many of us have read this story many times. What stands out to you about it here?
The first word that stands out to me is vulnerable. As a woman, she was in a vulnerable position. The law said to stone both a man and woman who were caught in the act of adultery. But here, it was only the woman that was brought before her accusers. She was vulnerable. And so are you. I can picture her there with her eyes down, afraid of what she’s done…afraid of what they’ll do.
It may seem like a stretch, but every person in this room has been in her place. We’ve all failed. We’ve all felt judged, just as we’ve all judged others. We’re watching the devastating effects of that right now on the tragic news from Orlando.
Richard Rohr said Jesus was not that upset with sinners. But he was always upset with those who don’t think they’re a sinner. It got me thinking…if I had been there, where would I have been?
At the end, Jesus’ words were, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” In other words, I don’t condemn you. And don’t do that anymore. Those of us who don’t admit we fail or do things wrong, don’t experience the grace that is found in that statement. I’m not saying we need to dwell on our failures, but we also don’t need to hide them.
Underneath our fear is more fear. If I admit my failure, I might be rejected. If people knew I think that or have done that or I’m that selfish, they might not want to have anything to do with me.
My hope is that this group will be different. You’ve alreadybeen so welcoming with each other. I want you to have an opportunity to say “I don’t do everything right.” I want you to share your vulnerability, and then move forward with this woman who was forgiven by Jesus.
She starts in a place of vulnerability. She’s then dragged into the temple courts to face her accusers. They’re trying to stone her and put her, literally, to death. You have your own accuser. Satan wants to accuse you. Revelation 12:10 says he’s working on it day and night. You know…he uses the voices of others and even your own voice to tell you that you don’t have any place or value. Why would anyone choose you? And those accusers pick up stones.
When we’re accused, we can respond one of two ways:
The first is that you can become an accuser yourself. You can take the hurt that’s been directed toward you and send it right over to someone else. And often, if we’re accusing, we’re criticizing someone else about one of the very things we’ve struggled with ourselves. The second is that we try harder. “I’m going to be a better person.” I’m going to do something about it, which, in reality, means that we’re going to try to control not just the situation but ourselves in that situation.
For those of us who try harder, we know the direction that takes. It doesn’t work. We end up overwhelmed and anxious. We feel abandoned. No one is trying as hard as we are. No one understands. And then we often join the accusers, too.
What was Jesus doing while all of this was happening? He was bent down, writing in the dirt. We don’t know what he was writing, but I want you to guess. At least, I want you to guess for yourself. I want you to think through these very things…to picture yourself in the story of this woman. Where are you?
1) Feeling vulnerable
2) Hearing the voice of the accuser
4) Seeing the outcome
5) Looking to Jesus
I want you to think first about where you are. But, even more importantly, I want you to lift your head and look to Jesus. His message is very different from that of the accuser. His is one of grace…and mercy…and light. What would you want Jesus be writing in the sand for you? What would you want him to say?
He has called you out of the darkness into his glorious, gracious, life-giving light. It’s where true freedom is…and it’s where you’ll discover more of who He has uniquely, wonderfully made you to be.”