John 8:1-11 (New International Version)
1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They 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. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At 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. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Craig preached on this tonight at Rhythm (12/10/09) and made some fantastic points, one of which is that this story is not about the woman, that she was just a tool that the Pharisees used to try to get Jesus. And he’s right. But nothing in Scripture is wasted and so I would like to take a minute or two and talk about the woman.
Have you ever had that horrible dream where you are in some very public place like church or school or work and you are completely naked? Not a stitch of clothing on you and there is nothing that you can do about it! Some people are shocked at the sight of you and turn their heads or cover their husband’s or child’s eyes. Some people are mortified for you and shoot you looks of pity as they pass by, but never offer you any assistance. Some people are insulted as if your nakedness is a personal assault on them. And some people just laugh. Well, this woman’s worst nightmare came true. But not just in front of any person, but instead in front of a large crowd of people, in front of the religious leaders of her day, and in front of Jesus Himself! And not only was her worst nightmare coming true, it was coming true to get at someone else! Her worst nightmare was being used as a tool to try to catch an innocent man! If this woman didn’t know what it felt like to be used before, she sure knew now. Did she even realize that she was being used? And if she did, did that compound the hurt? Show me a woman who claims to have never felt used in her whole life and I will show you a liar. We’ve all felt it at some point or other, even if sometimes we don’t realize it until after the fact.
As Craig preached, I started to wonder about this woman standing there. Was she even dressed? Did they drag her out of whoever’s bed she was in and not even let her get dressed or even drag a sheet with her? Was the humiliation of being caught in the act compounded by her being naked? I don’t know but for her sake I hope she was able to get some clothes on before they flung her in front of Jesus. The Bible says that they made her “stand” in front of the crowd. Was her head hung down? Was she wringing her hands? Was she trying to cover her nakedness? And what was she thinking? Was she bargaining with God? “God, if You get me out of this, I promise that I’ll live for You!” Or was she pleading with God to spare her with the only two words she could manage, “oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God….” Were her arms wrapped around her middle as she slightly rocked back and forth, just waiting for the first stone to fly? Or did she just want to die and get it over with? After all, we don’t know why she was committing adultery. We assume it was her choice, but since this story isn’t really about her, we’re not told her whole story.
We know that she was humiliated and her life was on the line. The stones were ready to fly right at her to kill her. But wait, no one’s throwing anything. The men who are accusing her are all looking at this other man, waiting for Him to cast judgment on her, as if waiting for His signal to let the stones fly. But He’s just drawing in the sand….. What the heck?
This poor woman! I have had some pretty bad days, but nothing I could ever go through in my lifetime could equal her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day on that day. But little did she know that from this humiliation would come her salvation. Yes, to stand naked in front of this large crowd, all the religious leaders, and God Himself would be the ultimate humiliation. But we stand naked before God all the time; He knows everything about us, about our lives, about our hopes and dreams, and about our failures. And yet, He loves us. Even with the full knowledge of every single one of our faults, He died for us. His grace is sufficient. It was sufficient for this woman then and it is sufficient for us now and always.
Today was my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life was NEVER on the line today. No one was trying to kill me and no one was trying to use me to get an innocent man.
When Jesus told to woman to go and leave her life of sin, I wonder if she cried… again… or more because I’m sure she had to have been crying the whole time she was standing there. I wonder if she was so relieved to still be alive that her knees gave away and she fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet. There are so many things I wonder about in this story, but one thing I do not wonder about and that is grace. It’s perfectly displayed here by Jesus.
“Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace. Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin.”