Sunday, June 13, 2010

Conscience Stricken

3When the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in the middle of the court and put the case before Him.
4Teacher, they said, This woman has been caught in the very act of adultery.
5Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such [women--offenders] shall be stoned to death. But what do You say [to do with her--what is Your sentence]?(A)
6This they said to try (test) Him, hoping they might find a charge on which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger.
7However, when they persisted with their question, He raised Himself up and said, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.
8Then He bent down and went on writing on the ground with His finger.
9They listened to Him, and then they began going out, conscience-stricken, one by one, from the oldest down to the last one of them, till Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing there before Him in the center of the court.
10When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?
11She answered, No one, Lord! And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on sin no more.
John 8:3-11 (Amplified Bible)

I chose the Amplified version of this scripture because vs. 9 interprets the scribes and Pharisees actually being “conscience stricken”. The first few times I studied this story, my focus was on the accused woman. I can only imagine the men shoving her into Jesus’ presence, maybe even throwing her down at his feet on the dusty dirty floor. I imagine her with her head hung low, not even being able to look up at Him in shame. I imagine she thought “this is it- I’ve been caught- everyone now knows what I am and I’m going to pay the ultimate price”.
I have done so much to be ashamed of in my life and sometimes the guilt has been so overwhelming… well let’s just say it’s hard to focus on anything but that. I can’t even imagine how much worse I would actually feel if I was physically in front of Him- having to face my sin. But this woman knew that guilt. We live in such a secular world- that when we sin, we sometimes forget Who we will face and answer to. I bow my head when I pray- sometimes it’s out of humility and reverence and sometimes it’s out of guilt and shame. I cannot express how much His Mercy and Grace have and continue to mean to me in my life. Without it I would continue to be lost. But praise God- I am a forgiven child of His!
My second thought while studying this story was that of the scribes and Pharisees- they were the accusers. They were trying to trick Jesus, but got a wake- up call BIG TIME. I relate to the accused woman, but I also relate to these accusers. How many times have I picked up rocks to throw at people? How many times have I played judge and jury? I’ve been guilty of jumping to conclusions, not having the facts and not going to the source. What about the times I have “shared” something I shouldn’t? Whether or not the person knows I said it- God knows it and I’m still discrediting myself and them.
We get so focused on being the victim that we sometimes forget we’re the victimizer too. We play both roles- we all do it. It doesn’t make it right, but we do. How many times have we sat in church and listened to a convicting message only to be thinking to ourselves, “I wish (fill in the blank) was here to hear this!” My point is- WE need to hear it too. We need to be reminded that we are sinners too and God has forgiven us. Forgiveness is hard-period. It’s a work in progress sometimes, but we always need to be working towards that forgiveness so we can, in turn be forgiven.
The next time I pick up a stone (a wrong thought about someone, a negative comment, a dirty look) I will remember Jesus stooping down and writing on the ground- maybe He’ll be writing my sin to remind me to look at myself first before I decide to pick up that stone and prepare to throw it at someone else. I pray that image is engraved on my heart and in my mind- and that you will too.

Father God, thank You so much for forgiveness, for without it, we are all lost. I praise You that You loved us so much, You sent Your Only Son to die for our sins. Help us to always remember the sacrifice You made so that we can have eternal life with You. Help us to put down our rocks and to get on our knees. In Jesus Name- AMEN

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