If you’ve been reading along with us, you’ve made your way through John 6, encountering the Word, the Creator, the Savior, the Water of Life, the Judge, the Bread of Life, and the Water of Life (in John 7 where Jesus introduces the Spirit who is yet to come). At the end of John 7 we witness a huge argument. The Very Religious Men are threatened by this man Jesus. He makes audacious claims and breaks all the rules. Others wonder, “Maybe this Jesus really is the Christ.” Right at the end of the chapter we see Nicodemus (remember him?) speaking in defense of Jesus, which was a pretty risky stand to take.
Imagine them all – the religious and the commoner – huddled together, an angry mob, trying to explain the inexplicable.
We turn the page and find Jesus at the Mount of Olives, in the temple, surrounded by people – maybe some of the same people. When suddenly the Very Religious Men bring a woman – I imagine her struggling to free herself from their Oh So Righteous clutches. She’s shoved into His presence and accused of being an Adulterer.
She was caught in the very act. How utterly humiliating. Wrong, yes. Shameful, certainly. But humiliating nonetheless. I’ve always wondered where the guy was.
Anyway, The Very Religious Men were trying to make a point. If they could get Jesus to break the Law then they’d have grounds to arrest him. They didn’t care about the Betrayed or the Betrayer. They were testing Jesus.
“Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 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. And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one….” (John 8:7) The woman — caught in adultery. The Very Religious Men — caught in hypocrisy.
One by one, the oldest to the youngest accuser left the presence of the Light of the World. Heads hung low, eyes to the ground, silent and utterly exposed. Peterson writes, “Hypocrisy is not the fruit of “bad seed.” It is the lazy replacement of a strenuous interior life with God with religious makeup and gossipy god-chatter.”
The woman – we don’t know her name – stood alone…exposed on every level. And, as the Light of the World revealed her sin, he also forgave. Grace upon grace upon grace. “Neither do I condemn you” said Jesus, “and from now on sin no more.”
All weekend I’ve been aware of the hidden sin and idolatry so alive in my own heart – have you had that experience? From a distance nobody might notice – we all work pretty hard at tidying up the outside, right? But he knows what’s inside, and despite what he sees he loves and forgives and never gives up on me – or you.
As you begin this week’s study, ask the Spirit to shine his light into the corners and crevices of your heart. Allow him to lift up the tarp and see what you thought was hidden. If you’ve been caught in the act open your heart to receive forgiveness and grace upon grace.