She stood trembling in front of Jesus.
Standing right in her own dirt as they accused her.
Eyes downcast. Shame creeping up red on her face. Fear pounding her chest in waves.
Here's how the story went:
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. "Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" John 8:1-5
That story causes me to cringe on many levels. But one thing blares loud:
Don't we all have to face our own dirt sooner or later?
Whether self-induced or coerced by others, sometimes we eat dirt over poor choices. We try to hide them. But others find out. Haters yell it from rooftops.
Perhaps we believe that we deserve such treatment. Maybe the woman did, as well.
Condemned by her actions.
Accused by her thoughts.
Braced to endure the harsh stones of judgment.
But landing in the dirt doesn't mean we have to call it home.
The story continues like this:
Jesus bent down and used his finger to write on the ground. When they persisted in asking him questions, he straightened up and said, “The person who is sinless should be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bent down again and continued writing on the ground. John 8:6-8
Jesus refused to pick up a stone. And He blatantly challenged those who did. Scripture doesn't tell us where His gaze fell as He uttered those words.
Who would you be in this scenario?
Some days, we crumple hard. Other days, we hurl thoughtless stones.
At 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you." Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8:9-11
The older ones left first. I noticed that for the very first time when re-reading these passages. The older had lived more of life. They knew how easily we can faceplant in the muck.
How consequences can make your chest heave heavy.
Yet ... Jesus didn't condemn her ... or you ... or me.
Time and again, Jesus is faithful to pick us up, dust us off, and set us on the right path again. The only thing He asks in return? "Go and sin no more." In other words, turn away from suffocating, dirt-inviting sin to breathe new life offered by Him.
This is a story of hope.
Jesus doesn't care what you've done.
He doesn't care where you've been.
He cares about YOU.
And His faithful, loving heart extends strong arms to lift us up. No stones. No condemnation.
And home? It isn't in the dirt. He's preparing mansions for us in heaven.
Talk about home sweet home.
What comforts and/or convicts you about this story?.