Judge Not

Author’s Note – A bit more of a pointed church newsletter submission than I normally do, but given the current climate in this country, I thought it more than appropriate. Sometimes these things write themselves.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this women was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They 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. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”(John 8: 7, NIV)

There are many Biblical stories I would have loved to have witnessed, perhaps none as much as the judgment of the sinful women. I can only imagine the scene- those who kept the law surrounded her, their anger and disgust evident as they prepared to follow Moses’ law and kill her for her immoral acts. Then, seeing a way to trap Jesus in a philosophical conundrum, they ask him what he thought they should do.  Instead of coming right out with an answer, he took his time, allowed them to continue with their righteous indignation, and then he finally stood and gave them the one answer they weren’t expecting. I’m ok with it if the perfect person among you starts it. Can’t you just picture their reaction? I imagine their strident questioning became sudden, awkward silence as they stared at their feet, casting sideways glances at each other to see who dared reach for a rock. Then, they each sheepishly left, one by one, until Jesus was alone with the woman and pardoned her.

My grandmother used to tell me that when you point a finger at someone, you have three pointing back at you. It’s always easier to blame someone else, to point out their faults instead of acknowledging our own, even though we usually have some part to play in our own distress.  This was Jesus’ true admonishment to the teachers, just as it was when he told his followers to remove the logs from their own eyes before they tended to the specks in other people’s. Admitting where we have fallen short means we admit that we have failed to live up to God’s expectations, but the Good News is that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect.  All He demands of us is that we try to live according to His laws and acknowledge that we have sinned. When we confess our sins before God, we establish a relationship with Him that we cannot have when we look to cast blame and point fingers at each other.

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