In John 8 we see the picture of a woman thrown at the feet of Jesus. A woman caught in the act of adultery. It must have been quite the scene. The scripture says that while Jesus taught the people in the temple, the Pharisees busted through the doors with this woman in tow. They threw her to the floor at his feet. All of the sudden, the scene went from a church service to an execution trial. And as the crowd shifted its gaze from the Teacher to the naked, trembling woman sprawled on the stone floor, the Pharisees cast their judgments and cutting words.
In Jewish culture, adultery was punishable by death, and this woman had been caught in the act. And while the eyes and voices of everyone there judged her for what she had just done, one of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “What would you do with this woman?”
Instead of joining in the voices hurling at this woman, Jesus bends down to the stone floor and starts writing with his finger. Many people have tried to figure out what he wrote.
I picture the eyes of the crowd switching from the shaking woman to Jesus while he wrote, letting the question hang in the air. The condemned woman braces for the inevitable answer.
Jesus stands and says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” After this he returns to writing in the stone.
Jesus does something interesting here. He addresses a systemic issue that we still wrestle with today: organizing some sins as worse than others. Judging the sins of others more than our own. Looking upon the nakedness of one another without addressing our own nakedness before God. We tend to hide our naked, broken selves while we cast stones when we see the nakedness in others.
The older ones left first until it was just Jesus and the woman. Jesus says, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one Lord.” The trembling, naked woman responds.
“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Jesus replies.
Jesus is not excusing her sin; He confronts it. He does not say that her sin is not a big deal; He introduces her to a better story. A better story than the life of living in shame over actions that one has done. He invites her into something else. He welcomes her to live a life in color, a life that walks out of darkness and into light of Christ. A life that looks upon the sacrifice of Christ as enough.
The truth of the matter is that Jesus invites us into a better story. He invites us to turn our heads from our judgmental glances at other people, towards our own sin, and offers a covering for our nakedness. A life that looks upon the sacrifice of Christ as enough and turns away from our sin.
So lift your head. The Savior is near.