I have fallen more times than I care to admit. Fallen into a "little" sin that seemed to creep in without me realizing it. Fallen quietly without anyone noticing but me.
But other falls?
They have been not so tiny. They have been not so private. And they have been not so quiet.
We all fall.
And whether our "fall" is quiet or deafening, whether it is gradual or rapid, whether it is private or public - the exposing of it can leave us feeling raw; vulnerable; ashamed. Sometimes even hopeless.
I imagine that's how the adulteress felt in John 8 (take a moment to read this chapter if you haven't before). She was a woman caught in the midst of her sin of adultery. Brought by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees to the temple where Jesus was teaching. Brought into the crowd. Brought to a public place. Possibly physically uncovered and exposed. Most certainly emotionally raw, and vulnerable. And more than that I am sure she felt...
Her sin was proclaimed in front of everyone she knew - neighbors, peers, perhaps even family and friends.
And then, while probably in the most humiliating and regretful moment of her life...she was placed in front of, perhaps even thrown at, the feet of Jesus.
Our own sin can place us here as well. When the mask is ripped off, when its revealed, when we no longer can run from it...we often find ourselves at the feet of Jesus.
There in that place, a place she could not run from, turn from, or hide from, they asked Jesus what her punishment should be.
A question we perhaps ask Him in this place too. When we uncover the sin of others. When our own sin in uncovered.
The Mosaic Law stated she should be stoned for her adultery.
I imagine her breathing was labored, or maybe it even stopped for a moment, as she waited with trepidation for the death sentence she anticipated. A feeling many of us can relate to as we feel our own mistakes are beyond repair. A sinking feeling deep in our soul.
And as she was before Jesus, eyes perhaps pleading for mercy, she did not hear the words, "stone her". No, such punitive words did not come from Jesus. Instead, He bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground twice and said this....
John 8:6-8 NIV
"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.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground."
Not one of them was sinless.
And each one left without casting a stone.
After they had all gone, the woman, whom I am sure felt tattered and broken and alone, was left there with Jesus. It was there is that space, in that chasm of brokenness, frailty and humiliation, that she was forgiven. Forgiveness didn't need to be spoken from her peers, her neighbors, or the Pharisees. Nor did it need to spoken in front of them. It needed to be spoken in that moment when it was just her and Jesus. A moment in which she saw Him and nothing else. A moment when everything else around her stilled except the beat of her heart as she waited to hear what her redeemer would say. A forgiveness that came from HIM.
And we, when we are left alone with Jesus, whether the world has cast stones at us or not, whether we have cast them at ourselves.....we, when we are left alone with Jesus, with just our repentant, exposed hearts....we are forgiven too.
I have been at the feet of Jesus. Broken. Ashamed. Exposed.
I have been at the feet of Jesus waiting for an answer. And He has lifted me up off my knees with His love and redemption. And He will do this for you, too.
I don't know what Jesus wrote on the ground. The passage does not tell us this. But I imagine it was one of the following words, words that your heart may need whispered to it today:
Whatever it was He wrote...it was erased. Erased by Jesus himself, erased by the wind, erased by the trampling of feet or by time.
But these words? GRACE. FORGIVEN. LOVED. REDEEMED. Hear them today.
These words? When He writes them on our hearts as we seek forgiveness from Him?
They are not written in dust or dirt, but with the redemptive power of the cross! And that cannot be erased!
Whatever it is you have been afraid to expose, whatever you might think is unredeemable, whatever hurts to lay bare....lay it at the feet of Jesus. Place it at the cross. For Jesus didn't ask the adultress why she did what she did. He didn't ask what else she had done. He didn't ask her what she could have done to prevent the sin. He simply said,
“Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11 NIV)
I hope the woman was able to leave that sin there in the very spot it was exposed. I hope she stepped out into a new life that reflected a redemptive light and a changed heart.
Because it is my hope for each of us. A hope that we accept the beautiful, free gift that cost Jesus so much. A hope that we accept the forgiveness that He offers, that we embrace a new heart and a new start; stepping into a life that seeks to live righteously-casting off the past to be deeply rooted in Christ.
1 Peter 1:18-19
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
Wife. Mother. Writer. Photographer. Child of God. Encouraging others in faith through a lens of grace and seeing beauty in the ashes.
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