“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group4 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.” John 8.2-6
This story of Jesus and his interaction with the woman caught in adultery is one of my favorites. I was going to title this entry “Sin” but I think “Grace” is more appropriate.
Jesus has seen it all. He knows it all. He hears it all. He who is God in the flesh is interacting with humanity. He sees the best and the worst. In this passage, he sees the sin of both the woman caught in adultery (and her partner who is unmentioned) and the sin of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. The judgmental nature and humiliation the Jews show towards the woman is just as much a sin as her act of sexual unfaithfulness.
And here’s Jesus, holiness made human, the divine dancing among the devil, sitting in the midst of it all. What was he thinking? What was he feeling? How was he experiencing mercy and correction for both parties? And why is the focus on the woman rather than her partner and the religious leaders?
The Jews who brought this woman and threw her at Jesus’ feet were concerned less with her sin and more with catching Jesus in a theological trap. But as we know from the rest of the story, Jesus was several moves ahead of his accusers.
Yet what I want to zoom in on today is God in the midst of gunk. Jesus in the midst of injustice. Righteousness surrounded by dirty rags. Everyone around Jesus needed cleansing. Everyone needed healing. Everyone needed grace. And in truth, he offers it to everyone in this story. Of course he is more harsh with the Jews than the woman with whom he is gentle, but he is still firm in his rebuke– “Go and sin no more.”
I can’t help but get the image of a giant dust devil like we see rise up on the plains of west Texas. Tumbleweeds are flying and sand circles a vortex of wind and furry. This is humanity, their sin, their mess. And in the middle of the vortex, in complete peace and serenity, is Jesus. He is not jostled by the wind, he is not affected by the cloud of swirling dirt and sand. He is untouched though not unaffected. He is a part but separated by holiness, perfection and truth. As the storm rages, Jesus is the epitome of calm.
The way Jesus handles all sins (including ours) is with the hands of grace. His approach doesn’t diminish his position on disobedience and evil but rather strengthens it. He provides substance to our fragile souls and weight to his glory.
Why not approach the throne of God today with confidence knowing that Jesus paid it all so you might live in wholeness, fullness and grace.
“O Lord God, I was but a sinner, wayward in all my thoughts and deeds yet you redeemed me. You reconciled me. You renewed by your Spirit. I was lost and alone until you rescued me by through your love. Come again, Lord Jesus, help me know the power of your love and the passion of the Cross. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen