Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pick Up Grace Instead

Jesus is teaching. People are gathered around Him. A ruckus occurs. Men circle around and there in the middle of them is a woman. Can you see this picture? Stone in hand. Words slurred like poison. Anger and self-righteousness overflowing. There's enough sin here to make the dirt dirty. "So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."" John 8:7

This woman caught in adultery. The man isn't present. She is the only sinner today. Oh, these men probably don't really care about her sin, but they are using her to get to Jesus. They are using her to prove a point. 

Jesus is very present. Isn't He always? These men thought they would surprise Jesus. No, Jesus knew what was coming. Little did they know He was already there before these men came on the scene. 

They are accusing. Jesus writes in the dirt. Is it what He writes or what He speaks that gets their attention? When He looks up they are gone. Only the woman remains. She didn't run. Okay, if I was about to get stoned and all my accusers took off I'd have grabbed up my skirt and ran like the dickens out of there. All you would have seen was my trail of dust. "When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"" John 8:10

But here, right in the center of these people, this woman came face to face with her sin forgiving Savior. He knew her heart. He knew her story. Her past and present. He too knew her future. He had plans for her. She was to sin no more. Oh, can you see her there? I can see the tears upon her cheeks. She must have been terrified, but here before her Savior she finds sanctuary. "She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." John 8:11

Funny how our accusers run when they are about to have their sins revealed wide open for all to see. The scene changes when the accusers are gone. What's left in their place is Jesus full of grace. He doesn't accept the sin, but He accepts the sinner. He doesn't condemn, but all is revealed. "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12

We can read this and ponder this woman. We can question these men. But let's make it present day for us. Women gathered after church. Circled with laughter. Bibles in hand. Minds on the afternoon at home. But there, walking up like she is one of them, is the woman they have all been biting at. Nibbling here and there, but today their looks scorn her deep. She feels the bite. Oh, what they think they know of her. If only they knew the truth. But would it really make a difference? Would this clique ever accept her?

Bring any scenario to the page. We have a way of stone keeping. We keep them close in our pockets, ready to throw at our target. Why? What is our take away? How are we any different than these men of this day ready to stone this woman of adultery? "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

I have been there with stone in hand just as I have been there center-stage with sins for all to see. Where is our grace? We call ourselves Christians, but sometimes we can be the worst of offenders. Friends, we all have dirty hands. Our only hope is Jesus. In Him we can come clean.

Praise God, in Jesus there are no outcasts. There are no sinners too sinful. He is there waiting for us to receive Him, arms wide open, ready to lift us up out of the muck and mire of judgement and condemnation. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load." Galatians 6:2-5

Where would we have been on this day this woman was cast in the center for her sin to be seen by all? Would we have picked up a stone ready to throw or would we have stepped forward to stand with her? "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

May we put down the judgement stones and choose today to live courageous grace. 
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