One of the most beautiful and troubling stories in the Bible of Jesus is the one where a crowd drags a woman on the ground to stone her. She is a known adultress, presumably caught “in the act” of cheating on her husband.
We think that retribution is the way to go. It’s been ingrained in us since time was time. We’re heading toward all of that now. This past year has seen so very much pain and groaning. All the earth is groaning. All the hashtag calling out – the sinfulness of our hearts, the lies, the deceit, the shame – and the fall of many who have held power for far too long. We’re sick of evil. We want justice, but we’ll settle for revenge and destruction.
I’m right there with you. There is a sick glee in my heart when I read about people “getting theirs” and I don’t have to wonder why the world is so very dark indeed. Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and place for making people pay. Civilization is based on that. But I think most of us have a pretty skewed sense of justice at best and lack the kind of wisdom and depth of perception needed to truly create and lead the change to a more just society. We should still try, absolutely, but somewhere along the line we are all going to disagree on what we really want to end up with.
For some, we want perfection. We want everyone to do the right thing just because it’s the right thing and we may or may not take the time to actually discuss what the right thing is and why the right thing is the right thing. This country is heading toward some kind of old western style justice and I’m not going to be shocked one bit. I absolutely predict it will get so very much worse. Know why? Because we are so much worse than we will admit. We cannot possibly see ourselves for what we have become, and refuse to wear the debtor’s shackles. And that is always a nonstarter.
Who are you demanding perfection from today? Yourself? Others? Who among us is without sin? The error of our day is that no one is putting down their stones. How long before we find out what Jesus wrote in the sand? Are we seeing it now? Has it begun? I tremble to think… God have mercy on us!
Jesus has written my name in the sand. It’s mine. I can see it a mile away. I’m the woman on the ground. AND I’m the one with a stone in my hand. Like the parable of the servant who was forgiven a great debt and then went out and immediately held his debtors accountable. I’m the one who wants everyone else to pay up.
What I don’t want, when I’m honest and raw about it, is someone else to come in and pay it all. I don’t want an innocent person to foot the bill. I don’t want mercy or grace. I don’t want Jesus. Not for everyone. I think I know who “deserves” a Savior. I could probably make a list if pressed. I know some of you kinda sorta have already – and it may look like your christmas list. … How many of us really admit it? I’m not on the nice list. I’m not the deserving one. Not really. I fooled myself some of the time. But I can’t fool myself all the time. I stand before the throne of God and I am undone. Not holy. Unclean. It isn’t just the ones who have REALLY sinned. The people who make my life harder. The people who make me mad. the people who voted differently than me. All the problem makers. Them. Not me. I pick up my stones.
I have to realize, like ocean waves pummeling me into the sand, all has been done for my pardon. All has been paid and I have been set free. I do the work of believing. I turn to the Gospel for the story of my pardon. And it starts before the world began, and it ends never. Somewhere in the middle is the birth of Christ. Somewhere in the middle is his death and resurrection. Somewhere in there is my realization of my need to be saved. And praise be to God, somewhere in there is my need met.
Put down my stones, then, woman! Pass grace and freedom like salt and pepper at the table. Let go the anger and contempt. Bring out the peace (pipe?) and spread the table with all the best silver and gold. Remember the manger. The one surrounded by the least “deserving” of people. The chosen ones to see the gift, the message, first. How blessed! How strange!
Take my heart of stone, dear Lord, and turn it into one that beats with your profound joy. Turn my eyes and ears into ones that hear sounds of angels. Turn my tongue into one that sings only of hope and peace. Let it be that we hear the story new and bold and find comfort like never before in it. Only in Jesus is true justice met. Only in Jesus will anything ever truly change. Only when we see Him clearly and accept him fully will we be free. It starts with putting down the stones. Even if I did say Jehovah.