The Stones Fell Away19th February 2018
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.3 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. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
The woman had no exit, dragged across the street. She couldn’t deny the accusation, because it’s true, she had been caught in adultery. She couldn’t plead for mercy, because who would even stand up for her? As the glaring eyes of the ones who claim to love the Lord stared at her in disgust, with stones ready in their hands, she was ashamed, guilty and hopelessly silent.
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
But in the middle of the chaos, one person would stoop for her. We would expect this Great Teacher to stand up or to step forward to speak, wouldn’t we? But instead, he stooped. He descended lower than anyone else - lower than the Pharisees, the people and the woman. The whole crowd looked down on her, but to see Jesus, they had to look down even further.
Jesus was prone to stoop. He stooped to wash his disciples’ feet, to pull Peter out of the sea, to embrace children. He stooped before the Roman whipping post, in the Garden to pray, and he stooped to carry the cross.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
So often, don’t we feel like the woman?
Guilty, condemned, unworthy. This condemnation comes from Satan, but he will not have the last word. Jesus has acted on our behalf, he has stooped for us. Low enough to sleep in a manger, work in a carpentry shop, sleep in a fishing boat. Low enough to be spat upon, slapped, nailed and speared. Low enough to be buried.
And then he stood. Up right in Joseph’s tomb and right in Satan’s face. He stood up for the woman and silenced her accusers, and he does the same for us.
A clean conscience, a clear record, a renewed heart. Free from accusation. Free from condemnation. Not just for our past mistakes, but also for our future ones.
11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
This is grace. This is our God, who frees us from the chains of guilt and condemnation. This is our Saviour, who's loving kindness makes him prone not only to stoop low in humility, but also to stand up in victory. Let us not only be saved by grace, but also be changed by grace.
(John 8:1-11) (Adapted from Grace by Max Lucado)
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you that you are a God who stoops for me. When no one else could look me in the eye, when I was covered with guilt and shame, thank you Lord that though you were the only one worthy to condemn me, you didn’t even pick up a stone. You look at me with grace in your eyes and tell me that I’m loved and I’m worthy. Not because of what I’ve done but what you have done. Help me to be changed my grace and live a life set apart through the strength of the Holy Spirit.
In Jesus Name, Amen.