Monday, August 19, 2013

A "sandy" encounter with Jesus

John 8: 3 – 6 (MSG) 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.

As John opens the 8th chapter of his gospel, he shares another very personal encounter Jesus with an adulterous woman. Caught in the act, this woman was taken to Jesus by the Pharisees. 

“This woman was caught in bed with a man that is not her husband. The Law of Moses says that we should stone her. What do you say?" (v 4 – 5) 

The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus. Instead of responding, Jesus knelt down beside the woman and began to write in the sand.

Can you picture the scene? The woman stood, ripped out of the bed of a man that wasn’t her husband. She had broken the law. She was a sinner. She was on display; her private mistake suddenly became a public spectacle. Have you ever wondered what was going through her mind at this point? Can you hear her sobs? We really don’t know much about this woman at all, only that she was caught in the act of sin.

I wonder if she had heard the buzz about Jesus and the miracles he was performing all over town? Had she listened to any of the stories? If she had, I wonder if she thought "What if everything I've heard about Jesus is true?" 

You have to imagine that she was kicking herself for the mistake she made. She was probably afraid of this angry mob too and trying to find the strength to face whatever was going to happen next. Maybe as she stood next to Jesus totally exposed, she thought “could this be the Teacher that has performed miracles???  If it is, I know he can help me.”

I am fascinated by the message Jesus calmly wrote in the sand as the Pharisees thew out their questions. When he stood up he said “Anyone here who has never sinned can cast the first stone at her.” After that Jesus returned to his sand writing. 

What was he writing? Perhaps it was something like:

“Judge not lest ye be judged?” or “Fear not for I am with you?” or perhaps it was something else. The Bible doesn’t tell us. I just can’t help but wonder.

Do you see what’s going on? The words Jesus spoke were powerful. Not a word was spoken but you have to wonder what was going through the minds of the men who stood there. “How can I throw this stone knowing what I’ve done?” 

THUD. The quietness broken by the sound of a single stone hitting the ground. In the midst of the stillness the woman hears motion - but it wasn’t what she originally anticipated. The tension was broken by the dropping of stones and the shuffle of feet. 

When the last accuser exited,  Jesus stood up and spoke to the woman. “What? No one found you guilty?” 

“No one, Lord.” (some translations say Master) She addressed Jesus as Lord. She realized who He was. In that moment perhaps she made Jesus the Lord of her life.

With love in his eyes and kindness in his voice “I also don’t judge you guilty. You may go now, leave your life of sin.” Can you imagine what was going through the woman's mind? In that moment, what would you have thought? I can only imagine the freedom and love she felt. It had to have been one of those goose bump moments.

Praise God we are all forgiven. Just as this woman left her life of sin, we must also leave ours and relentlessly follow the One who paid the price. Whatever sin you have in your life, surrender it to Jesus – leave it at the foot of the cross and walk away.

Perhaps the words in the sand that day were “Not guilty.” or “You are forgiven?” or “I know what you've done and it doesn't matter. I forgive you and I love you?”

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