Reference passage: John 8:1-11
She was being taken to the temple. My guess is she was not being taken gently, or with any care. As they brought her closer she saw the crowd.
Her accusers around her, a crowd ahead. She blinks slowly. Takes a deep breath.
There is no way of knowing exactly what she had been found doing. And the explanations I’ve read as to why she was taken in this manner and why the man was not brought as well are fascinating but not my point (do a little research, Jesus is awesome. Also, Lv 20.10 mentions both should die). The fact here is that she was taken to Jesus to be judged, and she had every reason to believe she was going to die. And she had done something wrong.
In order to be stoned the people taking her to Jesus needed rocks. Big rocks. She was being taken in a probable state of undress and I doubt any care was given to her comfort or safety.
So here is this woman. Half dressed, bruised, fear in her eyes – this would hurt. And Jesus doesn’t give her the time of day. He starts writing on the ground. I’ve always wondered what he was writing… or was it a doodle? He just goes on, “as though he heard them not”.
They asked if they should stone her.
They asked again.
“As they continued to ask him”. How many times? How many times was that woman made to hear the question that would decide her fate?
Then Jesus stands up, looks at them, not at her… everyone is quiet, she holds her breath, and Jesus says:
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”.
A heartbeat of silence.
Jesus bends down and starts writing again.
She holds her breath. What now? She’s standing in front of Jesus, who is looking down. Her accusers are silent, or whispering behind her. And then she hears it…
thump. A rock hitting the ground.
Thump. There goes another one.
Another. Another. Another.
John makes a point of telling us the older ones left first. Commentaries will tell you that the act of taking this woman in this manner was already wrong, plus, obviously, the fact that these were actual people who had made mistakes.
The older ones, those who had lived longer, made more mistakes, had the gift of time on their side, the ones that could look back and think ‘yeah, I’ve sinned’, left first, “convicted by their conscience”.
The younger ones… these still had their righteous anger, the illusion that that was worse than what I do. I’m not that bad. But wait… I have sinned.
They leave too.
There had already been a crowd, and everyone left. I wonder if the disciples were still there…
Jesus stands up, makes a point of looking around (isn’t he awesome?).
They are alone.
Jesus looks at her.
I often wonder at the impact of looking Jesus in the eye. Looking at a man who would see you in a way no one else could.
Jesus looked at her, and I think a small smile graced his lips. Jesus, as he often did, asks the obvious question: Where are they? (er… they left, we all heard/saw that). Has no one condemned you? (er… no?).
And now… she is forced to face her sin. While looking at blamelessness in the eye.
Those rocks… those rocks that say you are not enough, you are only an object, you are ugly, you are worthless, your are too fat, too thin, too lanky, too short, too tall. Selfish, difficult, petty, loose, demanding, too hard, too soft. Forgetful, picky, harsh, opinionated, shallow, weak, lazy, opportunistic… What’s your rock?
Jesus then does what he does best… he pulls out the card he uses day in and day out… in the stories in the Bible, at the cross, every day of our life:
Jesus gives grace first.
He didn’t say sin no more and then I’ll forgive you. He didn’t say change this, do that, say this, wear that… then I’ll forgive you.
He started with “neither do I condemn you”.
But wait! Don’t I have to be fixed, better, changed, “perfect” first?
“Neither do I condemn you” comes FIRST, and only then does Jesus say “go and sin no more”.
Jesus is about grace. Yes, he will hit us with the truth, without holding back, and in the mirror of his eyes we will have to face our sins, but his GRACE will envelop us first.
First he gives us a chance to breathe.
I imagine there were enough stones there for one man to stone a woman. When he asks the questions… she’s not off the hook yet! What options went through her mind? I have no way of knowing, but as I read this goes through mine:
– he could stone her himself
– he could call the people back to stone her
– he could take her to another crowd for them to do it
– he could lecture her on her sin
However… it’s Jesus.
Jesus looks at her, gives her his full attention. Jesus lets her breathe a sigh of relief. “Neither do I condemn you”. Ok, I’m not going to hurt and die right now. I think Jesus held her gaze when he finished with “go and sin no more”.
I don’t need more information to tell you that her change didn’t happen overnight, that she still made mistakes, and had to face some tough choices and conversations. I can tell you that I absolutely believe that she forged on, and that she did change. Because when you have a real moment with Jesus, that changes you.
He looked in to her eyes… and saved her.
The life saved by grace at the point of knowing how completely undeserving that is, is a life changed, every day, with baby steps some days and leaps others. The size of the step is not what matters most, what matters most is that
Jesus is enough.
And grace changes everything.
Keeping it simple,
*All quotes are KJV, from John 8.1-11
*This could also have been called “The woman who was not stoned”, but that would be a spoiler. *smile*
*Originally written in July 2019.