John 8:1-11 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Angry, condemning voices carried her into Jesus presence.
“You’re a whore. You don’t deserve anything except to die. You’re nothing. You’ll never be good enough. It’s all hopeless and nothing good will ever happen to you.”
She trembled under their fury. These voices were all too familiar. She had heard them many times before but this time they had dragged her out into the open. This time she couldn’t escape them, shout them down by shouting at others or herself, or run away. She had no rock to throw back.
The voices continued to pelt off her back. They hurt too much to turn and face them. She wanted to turn toward the anger and condemnation, if only to see why this man Jesus was responding to them with silence. She didn’t understand. These men with authority were asking him a direct question to which even she knew the answer. Why wasn’t he answering?
With back turned, she steeled herself for the first stone. She thought, “Would it hurt? How many would have to be thrown before it stopped hurting? At least there would be quiet when it was all over.” She knew her turned back was the correct answer to their question. The first stone was coming soon.
Still no reply from this man Jesus. Was he crazy? No one ever ignores these voices.
She could no longer just wait for the end. If she was going to be stoned, even die, she had to at least see what was going on. She knew if she were to look these voices in the eye they would grow even more inflamed, more hateful, more resolved. But, what was it about Jesus? What was he doing?
She lifted her gaze from the ground and slowly turned her eyes toward her accusers and she saw hatred looking back at her, even more enraged. Quickly, she cast her eyes away, condemning herself for her stupidity in thinking she could ever face these judges. But, as she was returning to the safety of not seeing, she caught a glimpse, just out of the corner of her eye, of Jesus crouched on the ground between her and angry judgement.
And he was drawing on the ground with his finger!
Instantly, she saw herself as a little girl, perhaps one of her earliest memories, laughing and happy, running toward something beautiful and fun. This memory put her in touch with something within that felt as solid as the ground she was standing on, the same ground Jesus was writing on, the same ground she saw herself running on as a girl.
“What was he writing?” she thought. She didn’t know and didn’t care. Stones thrown at her now and harming her, she knew, was about as likely as them being thrown at the ground she was standing on and creating craters. They just weren’t big enough to matter.
And she remembered being taught in her youth how people were formed from the dust of the ground as her eyes returned to a now standing Jesus who was saying something to the judging voices. It didn’t seem to matter what he was saying. It also didn’t seem to matter that now she was fully standing and facing them. She always thought this would make things worse.
She watched each accuser leave one by one hearing the dull, feeble thud of each stone hitting the sturdy earth with nothing more than a plume of dust in reply as they walked away. One by one they slowly left, even the loudest voice, even the ones she thought she’d always hear. Her eyes moved from Jesus drawing in the dirt to each one as they left. It seemed to take quite some time for them to leave but Jesus just kept patiently drawing in the dirt until it was just Jesus standing before her.
She noticed he had stopped drawing and his sandals approaching first, and as she lifted her gaze, Jesus met her eyes and said, “Finally, it’s just you and me. Where are the voices? Is there none left to condemn you?”
She could see or hear no voices of condemnation. “No one.”
She heard Jesus say, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.” And she knew her ground had shifted.
Are there voices of accusation in your life right now?
Do you need to turn to face these voices in order to see Jesus?
Are these voices of accusation being emboldened by your posture?
What ground are you standing on?
How can this season of Lent be an opportunity for you to see Jesus in the midst of the condemning voices? Where is He positioned?
Prayerfully enjoy the below artwork to aid in your reflections.