Monday, June 8, 2009

Dealing with Offense part 2

1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Often when we read this passage, we focus on the people and their intent to trick Jesus (otherwise, why didn't they bring the man? It takes two...). And it's true. The only reason they brought this woman was because they wanted to see what Jesus would do. But I want to look at this passage from a slightly different angle.

Leviticus 20:10 says this:

10 " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.
These men had the law on their side. Forget the fact that they were probably waiting outside her house so they could capture her, they were in the right. The law clearly says she should die. And no one would have given Jesus a hard time for agreeing with the law. But instead Jesus says "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." And at that, the men dropped their stones and walked away.

We've all been in situations where someone has hurt us, and according to the law we have the right to get them back. We say things like: "It's okay for me to hate them, you don't know what they did to me." or we talk to our friends and say: "Just thought you'd like to know, so and so did this to me." And you take those rocks in your hands and begin to throw them at the person, because it's your right to do so.

But Jesus had a different take on this. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever cut someone off in the hallway at school? Have you ever gotten carried away and done something you regretted? If you have, and you've been offered forgiveness, it is your responsibility to do the same to others. When someone hurts you, you have a choice to make. I can take the stone in my hand and throw it at them, or I can drop it and walk away. But as you're thinking about your choice, remember that God took the rock that had your name on it, and instead he threw it at Jesus.


1 comment:

Matt Lybarger said...

Jeff, you're the man. Right on. This is a great message. (However, on a side note, I would hesitate to say that the cross was somehow about the Father stoning His Son--which seems to some as a sick form of divine child-abuse.) Aside from that, though, what you are saying here is key for Christian living. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!