Amazing how one of this past week’s most trending topics focused on what’s in the Bible…
What’s biblical? What’s not?
And how does that apply to me?
Do I know what’s in the Bible?
Have I ever read it myself?
And what things can I — or can’t I — know for sure?
Allow me, no less, to thus share one of my all time favorite passages, a piece of scripture that I find humbling, profound, insightful, challenging, life-giving, and encouraging all rolled into one. And yet it’s a piece with which I think our society currently, significantly struggles. Let me change that… I’m thinking we’ve struggled with this for centuries…
From the book of John…
“… Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came to the temple courts again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them. The experts in the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in front of them and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone to death such women. What then do you say?’ (Now they were asking this in an attempt to trap him, so that they could bring charges against him.)
Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight and replied, ‘Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground.
Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
Jesus stood up straight and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’
She replied, ‘No one, Lord.’
And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.’”
There is so much in this sequence that mirrors our culture’s current rhythms…
- First, there was a person who engaged in behavior many thought was wrong.
- The crowd then moves to harshly condemn her.
- Jesus then asks the crowd who among them is “guiltless.”
- With the recognition that none of us are guiltless, no one is capable of administering the consequence.
- Only then, in the context of the relationship — with no shame nor condemnation — Jesus acknowledges that the behavior is wrong — and calls for the woman to grow and change.
Our struggle seems twofold…
We either are (1) quick to condemn or (2) in effort not to condemn, we deny the existence of any wrongful behavior.
When I read this passage repeatedly, I find myself quietly asking more questions…
- Where have I been quick to condemn?
- Where have I felt capable of administering the consequence?
- Where have I failed to recognize that I am not guiltless — that I screw up, too?
- Where have I been so harsh in my words to another?
- Where have I thought, “I’d never do that,” and then justified treating someone with lesser grace?
- Where have I denied the sin, because it was easier than wrestling with the reality that there’s an area in which I might need to grow?
- And where am I inconsistent in how I apply scripture?
Indeed, humbling, profound questions…