He sat down in the waiting room a few minutes before his annual physical. Just as he was about to pick up one of the magazines, she spoke. “You look like someone I can talk too,” she said. He replied that he could be a good listener. They were the only two within earshot and she unloaded her burdens. She was in for a follow-up visit concerning some on-going health problems that she admits that her lifestyle brought on. She talked about all her ex-husbands, her addictions, and how she knows she ruined her life. She did not know he was a preacher, but he took the opportunity to ask if she believed in God and Christ. She said she did and that she prayed some. He asked if she thought about getting help and building friendships in a church. “Church, why would I go there, I already feel bad enough. They will just judge me and make me feel worse!”
I have a note on my corkboard that has one simple sentence. A sentence that I want to define me. I’ll share that sentence with you later after I relate a background story.
There is an account of Jesus’ interaction with different people in John 8:3-11. Some have questioned the authenticity of this story, but there is nothing about the narrative that is inconsistent with Jesus nor the actions of the scribes and Pharisees. This familiar account plays out this way:
The religious leaders catch a woman in the act of adultery. She is either cheating on her husband or is the mistress of a married man. I find a curiosity in the absence of the man. If she was caught, wouldn’t he have been there as well? Should not they both be “called out?” But I digress . . .
The leaders bring her to Jesus and remind Him of the Law of Moses and the command to stone those guilty of adultery. They want to know what Jesus thinks should be done. They are trying to place Him in a moral, ethical, spiritual, and legal juxtaposition. Would Jesus agree with the Law of Moses or would He speak against the Law? Would Jesus show compassion to the sinful woman or would He condemn her based on their accusations?
You remember Jesus’ reply in John 8:7, “Let him who without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” WOW! He cuts to the heart of the issue. He cuts to the heart of the leaders. His statement cuts to the heart of those who read His words even today. They get the point. They drop their stones and walk away. Jesus turns to the woman and He refuses to condemn her, even though as the Son of God He has that right, but instead tells her, “Go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11).
There are numerous lessons we can learn from this narrative:
- Do not be quick to judge others.
- We are all guilty of sin.
- Jesus (God) knows our hearts.
- Be quick to forgive.
- Be patient with others. Their sin is just different from yours.
- God forgives us not so we can continue to sin, but so that we can be free from sin.
“Let him who without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Back to my note. My note is connected to this story. My note reminds me that there are broken people whom the world and many times the church continues to tear down. My note comes from a conversation with my mom and a lesson she learned from one of her aunts. The note says, “BE A STONE CATCHER.”
Will you join with me in intercepting (catching) stones instead of throwing them?