Friday, 6 July 2012

Throwing Stones...

"If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,"
 (John 8:7 NIV)


Today I was drawn to reading John chapter 8 in my bible.
To confirm, I read a devotional every morning and am currently reading a great book by an awesome christian female speaker called Priscilla Shearer...but in all honesty, very rarely do I have a huge urge to randomly pick up my bible prompted to go to a particular chapter...but today I did, and I was.

I read the chapter with great interest. It's basically a chapter where we see Jesus in a teaching debate with a group of people who are challenging Him...testing Him as they are doubtful He is the son of God. I call it a teaching debate because this is how I percieve all his answers to the group before Him. He could've got really angry and insulting back to them, but instead He speaks with Wisdom and real answers...
It's a fantastic read and I'd really encourage you all to look at it...it's a small chapter with BIG meaning. I'm sure there are many blog entries ready to be written about the things Jesus says in this chapter of the bible, but the part that really stood out to me today, was when a woman caught commiting adultery is brought to Jesus and His response...

To give you a little background knowledge of this story, a group of Pharisees (political group/social movement) were aware this particular woman was having an affair with a married man and decided to use her as a way of tricking Jesus into proving himself not to be the Messiah. They felt threatened by His presence, the miracles He was performing, the way people spoke so highly of Him.
In the days this chapter was written the penalty for adultery was stoning. The Pharisees knew that if Jesus set this woman free, they could accuse Him of ignoring the Law of Moses and deem Him a heretic. But on the flip side, if Jesus were to sentence her to death by stoning, then His teachings of Grace and Forgiveness would be negated.
Below is an extract from the NIV version of the bible:

John 8:3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. 

Can you imagine for a moment how the woman must have been feeling...
Scared: What was to be her punishment? 
Embarrased: The whole village including those they called the Messiah were aware of what she had been doing;
Vunerable: Dragged through the village for everyone to see...men no doubt leering at her, calling her names;
Dirty & Ashamed: Everyone knew she was an adultress, had used her body in acts she shouldn't have;
Condemned: People already judged her as guilty, dirty, useless, marriage wrecker, lowlife, scum...but to name a few!

If you were to put yourself in Jesus's position, how do you think you may be feeling right now?
Vunerable...all eyes are on you, awaiting your response;
Pressured...surely whichever you decide...to find the woman guilty or let her go...you fail either way!

Jesus's response just amazes me:

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
 9 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. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus doesn't answer the group of accusers in front of Him initially. Instead He kneels to the ground and writes in the sands. We don't know what He wrote, but we do know that, along with the words "Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" it caused the group of pharisees to turn and walk away. We read the eldest leave first (no doubt the ring leaders of the group, and heavy in sins they commited through life) followed by the younger members (no doubt, left feeling nervous at the exit of their leaders).
I think maybe Jesus in that moment very much revealed the sins of these men to the crowd there that day...I think He opened the eyes of the accusers, made them realise they were no better than the woman they had ridiculed.
We read Jesus continues writing, and eventually stands up to face the woman, asking her where her accusers are...has no-one thrown a stone at her?
When she answers him no, He informs her He doesn't condemn her either and she is free to go and live her life...without sin!

WOW! I'm sure if that woman has any expectations of how her morning was to end, this would not have been a scenario she would have played out in her head.
It's such an amazing testiment of Jesus's love for people...whoever they were (are), whatever they had done (do).
Jesus didn't tell the woman in this story off, he didn't belittle her any more than she had been already, he didn't judge her for her behaviour...he chose to forgive her, set her free and encourage her to go and live life well.
Whether she did or not...we don't know that answer, we can only hope the love of her saviour changed her that day.
So...bringing the context of these verses into our lives and worlds today...3 blunt questions:

1. When was the last time you stood, holding a stone of condemnation in your hand? Not a real stone of course, but a judgmental attitude?
2. When was the last time you behaved like the Pharisees who were so quick to condemn?
3. When was the last time you acted like Jesus in this story and showed Love and Grace?

These were the questions I felt challenged with after reading this story. Please, lets be honest here, we are mere humans, we ALL make judgements on others at some point! Whether it be how people chose to raise their children, how they lead their ministry or church, how much they weigh, what they wear, who they speak to, how they cook their veg (okay, that may sound silly, but I did actually have a conversation once with someone who was very judgmental of people who do not steam their vegetables...thank goodness I do...phew...they couldn't judge me on that...but what else do they judge me on....?!)

Because that my friends is the whole point. We could live our whole lives worried about what people think of us...what they say about us to others...asking ourselves continuously "do I meet up to their expectations",
"do I fit in with what society says I should be or be doing...how I should look, dress, eat, talk, weigh!"
We could stress ourselves, that if people knew the things we'd done wrong in our lives, the amount of times we have messed up, that they wouldn't like us, want to be around us.

Can I encourage you right now...like with the woman in John chapter 8...Jesus is the only one who has the true ability to judge you, your actions, and look at your life and set you free from the issues that have or are plaguing you.
Don't be so consumed with worrying about what others say or think about you when it comes to how you live your life...seek the approval of the one true God who created YOU in HIS perfect image, who loved YOU so much that HE sent HIS one and only son JESUS to die for YOU. Talk to God about the times you've messed up, say sorry to Him, ask Him to help you move away from those areas of sin and live your life in FREEDOM!
And please, if you are holding a handful of stones right now, ready to launch at the next person who doesn't sin the way you do...opps, sorry I meant lives the life the way you think they should...just drop them now...dwell on the scripture above and seek to be more like Jesus. Look at the areas you know you need forgiveness from...being judgmental may be a good start for you....and you know, usually when we are so busy pushing our noses into other peoples lives, it's because we're running from the things that are wrong in ours. 

I don't write this post to be the telling off parent who has it all together. As I mentioned before, as much as I've grown up in the area of not worrying myself about what others do, or what people think of me, I know at times I judge. I'm challenged today to stop being that kind of person...no matter how little or often I may do it...not doing it astall is BEST!
One thing I've learnt is that you if you judge a book or person by it's cover...you could miss out on being a part of an amazing story! Remember...just as you and I fail at times, we need to give other sthe space and grace to fail also! And then, be there to encourage them back up!
I just want to try to be more like how Jesus was in these verses in every encounter I come across. I'd encourage you to strive to be the same....

"Jesus, we thank you for your word. We thank you for your example of kindness, forgiveness, love and grace. We ask Lord that you would help us to be more like you. Help us drop those stones of condemnation from our palms and learn to care for others as you have done and still do! Help us also, know who we are in you Lord. That we wouldn't be consumed with what others think or say about us...that we would know, that even if we were dragged in front of you right now, like the lady in those verses, that you show us the same grace and compassion that you showed her. Lord, have your way we pray! In Jesus name, Amen!"

Be Blessed :)



1 comment:

  1. Thank you for linking up with me over at {All Things New}! I greatly appreciate it and look forward to establishing a new friendship :)

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