"...be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is
not in vain in the Lord."

03 March 2014

Encountering Jesus: Made to Stand Before...

Then they all went home...but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him. 
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 
“No one, sir,” she said. 
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 7.53-8.11)

It is a horrible feeling, to have your sin found out... 

To be made to stand before others, guilty, publicly shamed, humiliated... and terrified of the stones other Christians are sure to throw your way. 

If you've ever been there, you know what I mean... You see the look of repulsion in their eyes or worse yet, hear others voice the idea, "I know I still sin sometimes, but I'd NEVER do THAT... not what SHE did."

And so you close your eyes, tense your body, cringe... and wait...

Those who claim to have experienced God's grace and who claim to be so gracious themselves... so ready to throw those stones. A judgment of guilty pronounced. The sentence of stoning to be readily executed by a crowd that thinks they've got it. They know they understand yet most often? They don't... They don't know all, or sometimes even any, and certainly not the most relevant facts and details and circumstances. 

In this day and age, in this culture and country, the "stones" we tend to hurl are of the grammatical variety - adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs and expletives. Then, there are the stones of ostracism, of gossip, of unforgiveness, of isolation, of wearing that scarlet letter, of automatic and immediate disqualification, regardless... 

It wasn't always that way. It is still very different in other places and other cultures. Those stones, hurled then... and there... caused/cause violent physical damage and often slow, lingering death. Stones flung today, at those unsaavy enough to be caught in such circumstances cause bleeding, brokenness, discouragement, destruction and demolition. 

I met a dear lady since we've been home for our furlough, after I sat behind her in church. I noticed her because she almost never stopped writing on a large yellow legal pad - the entire service. At first I thought maybe she really liked the song we were singing and wanted the words. Then I figured she was busy taking notes - until I noticed that she was writing the same thing over and over and over. My next idea was that maybe she was working on a memory verse - and so nosy, I finally peeked at what she was so busy scratching out time and time again.

"I am a good person and I am worthy."

I felt almost physically sick when I read  her sentence. 

What had to have happened to this woman, several years my senior, that she was desperately scrawling these words hundreds of times on a yellow legal pad, frantically trying to chisel them into her soul and spirit, instead of spending her Sunday morning soaking in teaching, challenge, exhortation and encouragement from God's Word?

There was some truth to her scrivenry - though some might emphatically deny  that idea. I don't understand how, however, when God created each one of us and He declared/s His creation good... when each human is made in the very image of Almighty God. Men are worthy because He made us, because He decided to sacrifice His infinitely valuable Son to save us.

Yet there can also be an insidious lie contained in that scribbled over and over line. I am not worthy BECAUSE I am a good person. I am not a good person. I'm a sinner with a heart so deceitfully wicked I can't comprehend the depth of my own depravity. In my own efforts, I could never merit Jesus' sacrifice. No matter what I do, God had no reason to send His Son to save me because I'd somehow earned it. He had no reason outside of the reality of His own character - His kindness, His love, His mercy, His grace and His absolutely unfathomable desire for some incomprehensible-to-me reason to reveal Himself to me and to be known and glorified by me.

When the woman caught in adultery was made to stand before Jesus I wonder...
  • Where was her partner? (I mean, she was caught in the act...)
  • Where was her husband?
  • Was she clothed or had they further shamed her not just by exposing her sin, but by exposing her?
  • What did Jesus write?
  • Did she hang her head in shame and try to shrink away from all the staring eyes or did she glare defiantly at her accusers? at Jesus?
  • How long was she made to stand before... as her accusers silently, one by one, left that place?
  • How many accusers?
  • Did the accusers see what Jesus wrote in the sand?
  • Did the woman see what Jesus wrote in the sand?
Could He have written, over and over and over and over, something like: 

"Woman, you are good because you are 
one of my precious chefs-d'œuvre. 
Woman, you are worthy because I infinitely value and love you - 
so much so I'm going to die for you and
pay the penalty your sin demands."


The crowd soon tired of watching Him write and continued to press Him with questions concerning the woman's guilt and punishment. 

Then...

In a simple sentence, Jesus made every single person there listening, participating... Jesus made them to stand before Him - the only judge with the ability to rightly judge, the only one with qualifications and the capability to judge rightly.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

I'm wondering tonight.

If we were a little less ready to throw stones - maybe people wouldn't be so desperate for approval and success, and the keeping up of appearances...

Maybe they'd be more ready to risk big for God.

I'd love to know the "rest of the story" for this woman... What happened to her? How did her life change? Did she... and if so, how... did she risk big for the One who freed her from those chains of desperation, others' approval, appearances?

this week's gratitude list
(#'s 4410 - 4439)

writing again

1st and 2nd grade girls playing basketball

kiddo making a basket

state champions

cheerleaders excited about their team winning

future direction and...

a plan

sharing those plans with those who partner with us

hearing back from many people about those future plans

most of what we've heard back has been encouraging - even and although some are choosing to no longer partner with us

Sunday afternoon hanging out with Gammie and Gampie

a night out with friends a few weeks back

safety as we travel frequently what has been labeled the most accident prone stretch of freeway in Michigan

getting to visit Aunt Mary and Uncle Wayne's new house last weekend

dreaming about a maybe house for us some day

new season of Survivor!

M&M is finally somewhat interested in Cubbies... at least on some nights

Brendan will be home in less than two weeks... seems like forever since I had my boy here with me

our trips to Iowa and New York are coming together, finally

some good leads for some new churches to visit

the end of basketball season - our big girls are looking forward to more time at home

enjoying watching the Olympics last month

prayers for safety for misso friends in dangerous places

hopefully a dress to which we can make some alterations for Rebekah... for her formal banquet coming up soon

hard conversations

big girls excited about phone calls with favorite friends

history day projects finally done

science fair project almost done

first finding and now listening to a really awesome worship music album made by one of our friends

5th and 6th graders singing in Hebrew


  
Ten most recent posts in this series: 
Click here for all of the titles and their corresponding links in the Encountering Jesus series.

2 comments:

  1. I'm so happy you commented on my blog, which led me to click back over to you. Your post is heart wrenchingly beautiful. I'm also happy to be counting blessings with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi elizabeth! thankful that you decided to return the favor, visit here and say hi! thanks for your kind words, too. i really appreciate them!

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