Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In the Adultresses Sandals


            The adulterous woman’s story can be found in John 8. This first sentence is peculiar because it finishes the story from chapter 7. It says the Pharisees went to their homes and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. It reminded me of Matthew 8:20, “And Jesus replied to him, Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have lodging places, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” He went to the Mount of Olives because Jesus had no home, no place to lay his head, and none of the Pharisees had offered him lodging.

            Then the Bible says that Jesus appeared or went at dawn in the Temple courts and sat down to teach. When does He teach you? When do you sit down with Jesus and listen?

            While Jesus is teaching the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law brought a woman who they caught in the act of adultery. First of all, did they catch her in the act because that was the kind of woman she was or did they catch her because they set a trap for her? Second, these men were breaking the law because they failed to bring the adulterer with them. Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 says both the woman and the man, the adulterer and adulterous should be put to death. It takes two to commit adultery, so why leave the man out of this equation?

            The teachers of the Law and Pharisees made the woman stand in the middle while they openly exposed her sin to everyone who was around. I noticed they didn’t openly discuss their own sins or short-comings. It is so easy to point out the sins and short-comings of others, judge them and their sins being worse than our own making us feel superior, but when it comes to facing our own sins and confessing them that’s a different animal altogether, isn’t it?

            These men like the one in her bed were using her. The question the Pharisees posed regarding her sin was a trap for Jesus. They didn’t need her to be present to ask Jesus about adultery, but don’t you think they used her presence to try to manipulate Jesus or make the weight of their questions feel more real?

            After they asked the question, Jesus knelt and began writing in the dirt. These men were relentlessly asking Jesus what should be done. Keep in mind, she’s standing, and Jesus was kneeling. I’ve often wondered what He wrote. Personally, I think it would be great if Jesus was writing their sins down in the dirt at their feet, but that’s the fleshly side of me.

Jesus’s response is, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” I love this. It’s so clever. Matthew 7:3-5 says that we should take the log out of own eye before removing the splinter from someone else’s. Jesus said it before, and now He’s teaching it again. These Pharisees and teachers failed to realize is that Jesus came to fulfill the Law. He taught them that it was more important to exercise forgiveness and grace and mercy than to think yourself better than you aught. Now let’s bring that home. Sunday faces, church gossip groups (prayer groups), judging those who come to church and aren’t as perfect as yourself…yep, that’s how it. Her sin of adultery put Jesus on the cross just as the same as your sin of gluttony, gossiping, pride, anger, etc. You are no better. For we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. Do you want all your dirty laundry displayed for others to see? Because I assure you, others know what you think your hiding. They know your sins too.

            Another caveat to this situation is that in Matthew 5:27, Jesus said that if you look and covet another man’s wife you have committed adultery. Your thought life can be just as convicting as doing the act, and you know that at least one of these men had to have thought about having sex outside his marriage. Yes, that’s an assumption on my part, but I think it’s pretty safe to say. I’ve found that those who bark the loudest often have the most to hide…just sayin’.

            So whiile these men are contemplating how to respond to Jesus, he stoops again to write in the dirt. This body language is intriguing to me. Truthfully, Jesus had full authority to stand up and ask each one of those men to their face about their sins. Even if Jesus had remained standing and looking into their faces as they pondered his statement, it could be considered as confrontational. Instead, by squatting with his face downward, He took a passive approach but shamed them just as effectively. Sometimes the most effective way of winning an argument isn’t by using a two by four to the head. Sometimes it’s simply being quiet as they figure it out in their own heads.

Slowly the men start to leave starting with the oldest. Why the oldest? Is it because they were wiser or was it because they had more time in life to accrue more sin? Either way, eventually all of her accusers leave, and she’s still standing in the same place where she had been forced by her accusers to stand. She’s standing. Jesus kneeling. What had to be going through her mind? This whole thing took place without her saying two words. This whole thing took place without her having the opportunity to say or defend herself, not that she would have much of a defense since they caught her in the act. But here she is with this man named Jesus who forced her accusers to leave by the words he said. Her life that she should have lost under the Law was found in the form of grace, mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

            Jesus stands and speaks to the woman. His actions here are not confrontational either nor are his words. Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? John 8:10. “Woman” is a term with tenderness. He called his mother “woman” when she asked him to turn the water to wine as his first miracle. Woman, where are your accusers? A rhetorical question asked to make her look and think. They both knew what had happened. Has no man condemned you? This is so not how she saw things ending. You realize that, don’t you? Women in her sandals were stoned, and yet, here she stood without anyone to condemn her of a sin that she had committed. Jesus told her, Neither do I condemn you. In John 3:17, it says he didn’t come to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. Jesus didn’t condemn her because he had sinned like those Pharisees that had to leave. He didn’t condemn her because that was not his role, his purpose for coming to the world. He told her to Go. Move out of the place where you were condemned. Step out of the place where you should have been condemned to death and change. He wanted her to live a life without sin because he knew the consequences for sin. She knew what the consequence of her sin should’ve been. It should’ve been death. For the wages of sin is death Romans 6:23. The consequence for sin is death and separation from God.

She went from a promiscuous behavior and bad choices to being forgiven; from being used to being redeemed; from having a death sentence to have a restored life; from being exposed to being covered with grace and mercy; from being defenseless to being defended in the name of love. She met the Savior, and I can’t help but think her life was never the same.

            For we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We have all been condemned to death for our sins. There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10).  We have all worn her sandals. What do you do after you have been the recipient of grace, found forgiveness, been allowed to exchange death for eternal life? What have you done with that good news? Are you sharing it? Are you hiding it because you are too prideful and don’t want to admit you were a sinner and needed saving? What are you doing with Jesus Christ? Has your life been transformed? Mine has, a life transformed.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In Her Sandals -- She Meets Jesus and He's Drawing in the Dirt

This man they are calling Jesus tells them that whoever is without sin is to cast the first stone. I knew it. I knew I was going to die for it. Wait. What did he say? As I stand there, one by one the men begin to leave beginning with the oldest. I’m not sure if that is because they are wise or if it’s because they have accrued more sin. It doesn’t really matter. In the matter of a minute or so but what seemed like forever, all of my accusers had left.

It was awkward. Jesus stayed kneeling and drawing on the ground. Do I stay? Do I go? Do I say thank you? What does he want from me? What does he want in return? What is he expecting as his payment?  I wait. He stands up and looks me in the eyes…nowhere else, just in my eyes. I look into his face, and then he says,

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

It was the first time anyone had spoken to me since this whole thing started, and he was being nice to me. I search for my voice. As I speak my voice is shaky. No one, sir. I wait for the other sandal to drop. There has to be something horrible coming because I deserve it. I hold my breath. If he hits me, I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry. My chest is heaving and heavy. My jaw is clinched.

Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin, Jesus said. Wait, what? He doesn’t condemn me either. I am so confused. He tells me to get out of that sinful way of living. So, what do I do? He smiles at me and moves on to speak to another group of people.

I leave the temple that day in complete amazement. I was condemned to die. I mean it’s laid out in the law. They caught me in the act of having sex with a married man. I was dead when they caught me. No one would listen to me. No one cared that I barely had any clothes on. No one cared that the man that had been my lover just slipped out unnoticed. They only wanted to make sure they had me. Grabbing me by my hair and arms, forcing me to go where I didn’t want to go, exposing me and my sin for everyone to hear, I really don’t think I could’ve gotten much lower. At one point I remember wishing that they would just stone me and get it over with. Then Jesus. That’s his name. Jesus. I’m not sure why they took me to see him to get his opinion, but I am so thankful they did. Not once did he call me those horrible names. Not once did Jesus use me or make me feel like I was dirt for the choices I had made. Not once. He looked me in the face. His eyes didn’t wander all over my body like I was a piece of meat. He saw me. He gave me something that I don’t know that I’ve ever been given before – grace. He spoke to me lovingly. He didn’t condone what I had done, but he also didn’t condemn me. All he asks of me is to leave that way of life. He didn’t want anything from me.

I was condemned to die, but he gave me life. I owe him my life. The least I can do is leave the way of life that caused him to have to save my sorry self. I can do it. I can.

I return home much to the amazement of my neighbors and family, and I tell them some of what had happened, and I tell them about Jesus. It’s the sweetest name I know.

Monday, February 3, 2014

In Her Sandals

There are some days you just want to crawl right back into bed, but that really isn’t an option nor a wise choice for me today. It’s already been an exhausting day, and it’s not even noon yet. As a matter of fact, my day started when men burst into my home and yanked me out of my bed not even allowing me to get completely dressed. I was shocked like anyone would be and then fear set in. These men were going to have me killed. I began begging and pleading with them, but no one was listening. I tried to explain about the man in my bed, but no one wanted to hear what I had to say. They just left him in my bed which is why going back to bed would not be a wise choice for me today.

I’ve never claimed to be a good girl. I’m a girl who gets by. I’ve made more than a few bad decision several times in my life, this morning being one of them, or maybe I should say last night was a bad decision.

I quickly realize these men aren’t interested in anything I might have to say. My fate is sealed. I know enough to know that they are going to kill me, have me stoned, and it’s not even noon yet. Have I said that already!? Not that I have thought about how I would die, but if I did, this certainly would be the way nor the reason.

They take me to the Temple where there’s a teacher speaking to an audience. I’m having to walk quickly and trip over the cobblestone. I’m breathing heavily and my hair falls into my face. These men who have me by the arms just barge in and throw me into the middle of the teacher and his class and tell me to stand there. They then begin telling this teacher what they caught me doing. I am humiliated. I’m barely dressed and now they are exposing everything. I have no dignity left. They ask this teacher what to do with me. They say there’s Moses’s Law that says I should be stoned. This man they are pressing for an answer is obviously a wise man. He kneels as if he’s thinking about his words, and they keep badgering him. I try to cover what I can, but there really isn’t much use. This man is near my feet and he’s drawing on the ground. Finally, he rises. I brace myself for what is to come, for what I deserve.