Sunday, July 20, 2014

Where are your accusers

It always intrigues me when God asks a question. It can't be because he needs information, as if there is something unknown to him lurking inside of me. In part, questions force us to participate in the conversation, to look for the answer and give our best guess to the Master. Something in us doesn't respond as well to a droning lecture.

Questions invite.

In John 8:1-11, there is a story of a woman caught in adultery. (Complete sidenote: because this is a rare disputed passage in the Biblical cannon, I researched the topic a bit. If you are interested in puzzling out why scholars debate its inclusion in Scripture, this article was helpful to me.) She is brought before Jesus with the expectation that he will condemn her, command her to be stoned as the Law requires.

After all, she was caught in the very act of adultery. All by herself. Uh huh, really.

Another article I read today talks about how carefully Jesus upheld the Law. He wasn't backed into a corner by the crowd; he stood up for what was right and judged fairly.

So this story may be a lovely tribute to the Law, but readers for centuries have loved it because it speaks of grace. Jesus didn't condemn her, and he surely knew she was guilty. He surely had the right to judge her; her heart was open to him. And yet, after such a public, humiliating spectacle, he says, "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin." Until Judgment Day, when we stand bared before a righteous God, we have the opportunity to repent, to turn toward him.

But Jesus also asks her a question. My translation says, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" (v.10, NIV) The King James says, "Where are your accusers?"

The answer is "No one is here to condemn me." She is standing before Jesus, and all of the stone throwers have slipped away.

But what humiliating experience, to be caught in sin and dragged to a public trial. The experience wouldn't leave you easily. You would still see the people who accused you as you went to market, took your clothes to be washed, drew water from the well. And you would know that they are still accusing you in their heads (at least).

So when Jesus, at this pivotal moment, asks her a question, she is forced to answer: "No one accuses me." And the Righteous Judge, standing before her, sends her away with the command to live better. In that moment, Jesus plants his words in her head, the reminder, the truth she must cling to, as she goes on in her life.

Who is accusing you? How does the punishment/judgment/grace thing work in the life that we live?

Who is accusing you?
No one.
Neither do I. Go on, and live repentant.

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