The Woman Caught
John 8:1-11 NLT
I served in a church ministry in numerous capacities for over 35 years and I’ve seen my share of judging. I’ve also been the focus of the judgement.
The interesting thing about judgement is that oftentimes decisions to judge another person are made from a perspective of inference. It’s not based on all the facts. It’s been my experience that it’s based on half the truth.
Being judged by a brother or sister in Christ is especially hurtful when it’s done secretly. That’s because others can begin to treat you differently and you aren’t sure why. You may know something has changed but you don’t know what happened. You may even ask them if something is wrong or if something has changed and they may deny it.
During the first 15 years of ministry no one asked me for all the facts. No one told me they’d heard something and they wanted to know if it was true.
During the first half of my time in ministry no one came to my defense.
Later I met a woman who was kind and gentle. She was and is a truth teller. She became an advocate for me and I became a truth teller and an advocate for her. She has been my prayer partner for over 25 years and I am ever fo grateful every day for her love and support. She was and is a God-send.
The woman who was caught in adultery in John 8:1-11 didn’t think anyone in the crowd would defend her. She fully expected to be stoned that day. See, a woman allegedly caught in adultery at the time of Jesus WAS stoned. A man would not have been questioned about his fidelity (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/adultery-2). A man owned a wife; she was his possession. A woman did not own her husband, and property or other means of support.
In John’s gospel we read, “Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 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, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of 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. 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!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. 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. 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.”
In some parts of the world women are still considered to be a possession today.
The big problem with that thought and with history is that change often comes slowly. We change it one young girl and one young boy at a time.
When we teach young children Biblical Principles of valuing every person, we begin the process of change.
I taught my daughter she was valued. I taught her to stand up to everyone who bullied her. Now, she is 5’2” tall and she was a cheerleader in high school. She was their flier. She also did hurdles in track. She was the oldest of three younger brothers and they knew better than to “mess” with her. She was fearless.
She IS fearless.
She taught her children the same principles. Today, her daughter is fearless.
I taught all of my sons to respect women and to never seek to dominate.
Their sister helped make sure they understood.
A few years ago youngest son (who is career military) reported to a U.S. General. I met her at one of his promotion ceremonies. She was very kind and gentle. My son told me that she is kind and gentle, but she is definitely IN charge.
THAT warmed my heart and gave me hope for society. I am reminded of the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 4 he knew her story and he changed her life. When he met the woman charged with adultery in John 8 he knew she had been dominated. He knew there was “more to the story than met the eye.”
So, Jesus put the spotlight back on them. He reminded them of what the Apostle Paul wrote later in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
No one is without sin.
Do not judge another for we are not without sin.
I am not without sin.
You are not without sin.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Recognize your shortcomings.
I do not have to go far at all to remember the last time I fell short of the glory of God. I remind myself daily how imperfect I am and I fall at the feet of Jesus/God to ask for mercy and forgiveness.
Recognize your imperfections. Fall at the feet of Jesus and ask for mercy and forgiveness. Then receive God’s cleansing. Stay in that place of forgiveness for as long as you like. It’s a very sweet spot!
In God, Deborah