3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 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. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:3-11 NIV)
I am a mess. I know my issues. I am well familiar with the sin that eats away at my soul. I know how I attempt to hide the hardness of my heart. My judgmental attitudes are an anathema to God. My duplicity drives me crazy. The characteristics that describe the content of my character are vastly different than the characteristics that describe the character of my Savior. It’s not that there are “some” differences between Jesus and me–there is a world of difference. These differences are a constant reminder to me that I’ve got a long ways to go.
You would think that with all that there is in me that needs to be changed that I would focus on seeking the Lord with all of my heart, praying for the change He wants to make, and working on seeing the change come about. You would think that, but… But that is too much work, too time consuming, and it is far easier to find someone who I think is a bigger mess than me and simply say, “I may not be perfect, but at least I am not as bad as him.”
If you are reading this then I am assuming that right about now you are thinking, “I’m guilty. I do the same thing.” There are tendencies that we, as people, all have in common. Doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman, rich or poor, hold a Ph.D. or a GED, are black, white, brown, yellow, or red–we have much in common and one of the commonalities we share is to cast ourselves in a better light by finding someone we think is a bigger mess to make us feel better about ourselves.
The people of Jesus’ day did the same thing. They found a woman caught in adultery, not accused of adultery, but caught red-handed, and they made a public spectacle of her. With one question Jesus foiled their plan. He asked, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” She was a mess, but Jesus let them know that they were equally a mess.
Jesus doesn’t dismiss our sin. He doesn’t downplay it and say, “It’s no big deal.” Jesus said to the woman and He says to us, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” I’m so grateful that Jesus doesn’t condemn me. I’m equally grateful that He is continuing to call me beyond my sin, to the possibility of a new life lived by following in His steps.