York Mystery Plays 2012 - Dress Rehearsal 01.08.2012 -64, a photo by alh1 on Flickr.
So much is in the news about gay marriage. And about pedophiles and sex scandals. The scene that follows may bother you. I hope it helps you.
Shame. Embarrassment. Horror. Shock. These feelings flooded a woman in the time of Y'shua. Her world was crashing around her as a gang of men crashed into her house at the very moment she was 'with a man' who was not her husband. We know few details, but we know certain ones. And what we know is that her life as she knew it was over.
This took place in Israel about 2,000 years ago and the men who caught her were keen to smear her already suspicious reputation. They also caught a man, who never features in this sting operation scene.
They dragged her through the neighborhood and tossed her at the feet of the new Messiah candidate, Y'shua of Nazareth. What would he say should be done?
I hate the way these guys treated her. I hate the fear and the shame that fell on her. I'm so sorry that the man caught with her was not brought forward for any justice to be equally dispensed. The men who 'brought' her to Y'shua were not caring about her at all. Obviously. In fact the story in the Bible says that this whole operation occurred, "They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him." [recorded in the book of John, chapter 8, verse 6] (Wow, they found a woman who fit a bill and wondered what this new candidate would say, so they could accuse him further!)
Caught. Fearful. Shamed. Look, she didn't think what she did was wrong. At least an hour before she was ok with her actions. But the interruption and the dragging through town, and the courtroom in public were all a bit too much. She would have wrapped herself in anything she could find. She wanted to hide. The men were hostile. The men wanted 'blood' using her to get to the dismissal of the new messiah-wannabe.
Jesus wrote in the ground's dirt. They waited. They had rocks in their hands. Unsure at whom they would throw them, the rest of the crowd looked on. Anticipating.
Everyone was waiting.
The woman was waiting for impending justice. The Jewish leaders waited for a miscue and a misspoken word from Y'shua. Y'shua waited for the justice of heaven to reach the plaintiffs and the mercy of God to reach the woman.
Jesus answered, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (verse 7)
Wow. Y'shua did not diminish the Law at all. He elevated the Law so high and the justice of the Law so high that "When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones." (verse 9) Older ones had the wisdom to know how far short they fell of the sinless requirement just imposed by the Wiser-than-Solomon who stood or rather knelt before them. Then the younger ones left. Everyone was gone except Y'shua and the cloaked woman.
No accusers. No trial. No sentence. No court.
Now what will Y'shua do? The woman. She's still quivering and worried. What would this holy man do to her. He could do anything. He had outwitted the wise ones. He looks like he has significance and power. What would he do with her?
Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (verses 10-11)
Jesus did not need to forgive her. There were no accusers. So there was no need for a declaration of guilt. No need for forgiveness which would be an override of justice. It is forensic forgiveness in a way, but it's greater than that. She knew her guilt. She knew her sin. She had never known mercy before. But now she meets Mercy-in-the-flesh in the person of Messiah Jesus.
He declares that there is no courtroom. He declares that He will not bring justice on her. He will not condemn her. He looks with pity on her and wishes her well. Oh, wait, one more thing, He says. "Don't sin anymore."
What! No more sin of any kind? What are you saying? Don't steal. Don't commit adultery. Don't covet. Don't break Sabbath. No mixing of wool and linen. Don't you know there are 613 laws and the rabbis have added thousands more... how can I do that?
I'm not perfect.
Right, now you get that. Don't keep on sinning in the area where God has forgiven you. Don't test Him. Don't reject the love of God in the area of His forgiving you. Don't slap God in the face. Live clean.
We'll work on other sins down the road. And we'll work on them in the same way we dealt with this one. Clean you after you admit your sins and hear, really hear, the kind words of the Almighty. "Neither do I condemn you."
Here we are 20 centuries later.
Do you have a favorite sin? Overcome it in this way. Refuse. Run. Repent. Listen to the words of God. Turn from your sin and trust Him for forgiveness for the sins in the past and look for His presence and Word to be your strength from now on.
What if you fail? What if you go and sin again? Listen to the wise Solomon: "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again," (Proverbs 24.16). No matter how many times you fail, turn again and receive God's mercy. One more time. Keep getting up. Keep looking up. Keep listening to the One who forgives 70 times 7. His mercies never fail. Jesus forgives and gives and strengthens.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.