John 7:53-8:11 Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home…But early the next morning Jesus was back again at the Temple…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. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus…the law o Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” 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…The accusers slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest…Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
Psalm 113:5-7 Who can be compared with the Lord our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth. He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump.
Garbage. That’s how the Jewish leaders viewed the woman they brought before Jesus to trick him. Umm…did she manage to commit adultery by herself? Where is the guy?!
Since her accusers left in order of age, beginning with the oldest and thus most respected, my husband thinks Jesus wrote names in the dust—names of women whom these men lusted for, whether they had acted on their thoughts or not (see Matthew 5:28). The crowd wouldn’t have been close enough to see as Jesus gave them a chance—a wide open opportunity—to repent of their own sin and hypocrisy and find freedom for themselves. They weren’t willing, though, to admit they were the poor and needy ones in need of God’s help and forgiveness. I picture Jesus feeling great sadness as he stood back up, for not one of them chose the option of restoration, of leaping into Life.
With this beautiful story, John illustrates his thesis that Jesus is just like his Father, stooping down to lift us up. “I know him. He sent me to you.” Jesus knows us, too, inside out. God sent him to us to open opportunities for us to acknowledge our need so he can free us as well from the enemy’s accusations and our own soul-poverty.
Lent is just such an opportunity. I commend to you our youth director Alex’s sermon from last Sunday. Spoiler alert: it involves a flung tangerine. You can listen to it here.