Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. John 8:1-2 (NLT)
God’s children cannot keep on being sinful. His life-giving power lives in them and makes them his children, so that they cannot keep on sinning. 1 John 3:9 (CEV)
John 8 begins with the story of an accused woman. Some Bible translations note that this story was not found in John’s earliest manuscripts. Should we not consider this vivid story part of Jesus’ Good News? It was found in several later manuscripts including one written by Luke so we can consider that it was a known story of Jesus. It is a story of grace. Jesus was all about the Father’s unconditional love so it makes sense to me that this is His Good News story.
It begins with Jesus in a Bible study. I can just see a group of people listening with intense interest to what Jesus was saying about Moses or Isaiah when all of a sudden there is a scuffle and a half-naked woman is shoved into the middle of the group by the Holier-than-thou-Morality-Police. “This woman was caught in the act of adultery!” (It was a solo act, right? But that is for another devotion on another day!) The MP’s want a quick verdict of what Jesus thought about this disgusting, sinful woman so they could get to the stoning and move on with their day. But instead of standing up and speaking forth about what He thought, Jesus bends over.
Jesus spent a lot of time in a low position. He bent over to wash feet. He certainly knelt often to pray on mountains and in gardens. He even bent down to carry a heavy cross.
What was Jesus writing in the dirt? How many of us are going to ask Jesus that question when we get to heaven? Yes, I’m raising my hand, too. Maybe it was something simple like He was just trying to get eyes on Him instead of the woman.
The woman didn’t speak. What would she say? Would she ask for mercy? From who? God? His spokesmen were the ones who had accused her. How about her family? They weren’t around. Families are often the first to distance themselves when a sinful secret leaks.
When Jesus did stand up again He said, “OK. Go ahead and stone her. But only those who have never sinned get to throw a rock.” Yes, Jesus does have a tendency to derail a well-planned, self-righteous plan. Before the woman can gasp in disbelief, the rocks drop and the accusers slink away.
“Where are your accusers?” Jesus asks the woman in verse 10. Uh-huh. Now that is a question for me. For years I have heard voices of condemnation in my head.
“You never got your degree!”
“When are you going to lose weight?”
“You failed – again!”
My accusers are many and varied, including myself. John says in Revelation 12 that –
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,
“It has come at last – salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth – the one who accuses them before our God day and night.” Revelation 12:9-10 (NLT)
The relentless accusing like the woman experienced also happens in my life. It is the job of Satan to keep the words rolling relentlessly in my head to chip away at my worth. But I have an Advocate and His name is Jesus Christ. He is right there in God’s Throne Room speaking on my behalf. Jesus came down to my level, lived a full life here on earth. He stood tall on that Sunday morning. Death was defeated; the Accuser was silenced. I have His voice in my spirit now.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NLT)
Jesus did not condemn the woman at the Bible study on that long ago morning in the Temple. And neither does He condemn me. “Go and sin no more” He says to me and then proceeds to show me just how to do that.
But what did Jesus write in the dirt? It may have been the only sermon He wrote! If it was, it might have been entitled Grace. Just sayin’!
Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone written by John Newton and Chris Tomlin, sung by Chris Tomlin