"But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And, when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So 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." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 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?" She said, "No one, Lord." and Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
Friday night I heard a teaching on this passage and I pray God will use the words I heard to change my life.
After reading the passage from John 8, the person teaching the lesson said that at any moment of our lives we are one of the three characters in the story.
We are the woman at the feet of Jesus in need of mercy.
We are one of the Pharisees, holding a stone in hand. . . ready to throw.
Or, we are Jesus, showing mercy to the one in need of it.
I am that woman at the feet of Jesus in need of mercy. No. I haven't been caught in the act of adultery, but my sins are great and my need of mercy is continuous.
I remember the definition of mercy. . . Not getting what I deserve.
And, way too often, I'm the Pharisee with a stone in hand. . . ready to throw. And unlike the Pharisees in this story, I actually throw it. Sometimes I throw it to make sure they feel it and that it hurts. And other times I throw it. . . not for their benefit, but for mine. To make me feel better about myself.
They should have done this. They should have done that. Can you believe what they said. . . what they did? What kind of a person would do something like that? They shouldn't be able to get by with that. On and on and on.
And, the worst part of being a stone thrower is that you don't want to be alone in your stone throwing. It's so much more fun to pass some stones to someone else so they can throw too. The more the better.
Stone throwers have the ability to forget that the one they are throwing stones at are really themselves. "Judge not, lest you be judged." Our victims wear our faces, or the faces of our children, or the face of someone we love. We just pretend that they don't. That we don't recognize ourselves in them.
When I am a stone thrower, I am still the woman at the feet of Jesus. . . in need of mercy. I just don't see it.
But, because Jesus lives in me and because He is sanctifying me daily, I can put down my stones. I can give up a lifestyle. . . a hobby of stone throwing. He gives me the grace to see my face on those that I want to stone. That I want to declare guilty. Because of His grace, as I bend over to pick up a stone off the ground to throw, I see what Jesus has written in the sand. I see my name. I see my sins. I see the sins written in the sand that no one knows about but me and Jesus. The sins that He died for.
And not just my sins, but I also see the mistakes. . . and sins of the ones I love. I don't want to be stoned. And most of all, I don't want the ones I love to be stoned.
I cry out for mercy for myself. And, I cry out for mercy for them.
Only Jesus would show mercy to the one with the stone in hand as well as the one at His feet.
And, for that I say, "Thank you Jesus for your mercies, and that they are new every morning."
I love the fact that Jesus lets us know that the woman was guilty. She was caught in the act. Jesus wasn't giving her the benefit of the doubt. . . that she really wasn't guilty. Or, that she was just misunderstood. She was guilty.
That tells me that Jesus gives me mercy when He sees it all. When I am caught in the act. To receive His mercy, I don't have to pretend that I haven't messed-up as bad as I have.
And, it reminds me that the mercy I show others doesn't depend on someone else's guilt, their motivation, or their repentance. It should just be given.
After, the lesson Friday night, we were given a stone. A stone to keep. To decide what we wanted it to mean. I knew my stone was one to be laid down. Not just that stone, but all the others I would want to pick up. To pick up to throw.
I took the stone out of my purse during worship at church Sunday morning. I just wanted to hold it. I wanted to offer it to Jesus as an offering of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for His mercies.
I accidently left it on the seat next to me when I left church. I hope whoever finds it, sees it as a stone laid down and not one picked up.