Where are your accusers?
As I begin my quiet times with the Lord, I always pray, asking the Holy Spirit to lead me, guide me, and teach me. I pray, “Lord, take these words I’m about to read and bring them off the page like never before in a way that you would have me hear.” I trust He can make use of whichever translation I am using.
I suggest you begin like that and then read John 8:1-11 – often titled, “The Woman Caught In Adultery.” Familiar with the story, I like to give it the title, “The Prodigal Daughter.” I suggest you read it 3 times (it’s not that long). In doing that, I hope you will encounter your Savior (not mine, your pastor’s, or anyone else’s). It might be a special experience if you do that before continuing with this article. You don’t need to hear what I have to say — at least not at this moment.
If you are a person-woman who has experienced painful judgment from people around you, seeming public ridicule, resulting in not feeling welcomed in their circle, I believe the Bible has something to say to you.
Within limited space, allow me to be a tour guide and note some points for observation.
In prayer Jesus teaches in the temple bringing me a picture of a church gathering (a common place for judgment). Religious leaders set the woman before Jesus to see how He would judge her. She is made to stand before “church brothers and sisters (her jury).” Couldn’t it have been done in private? Maybe the people are to be taught a lesson just as the Woman and the leaders will?
The accusation is made. There’s no apparent question of guilt. I do have to ask, “Where’s the man?” The authorities remind Jesus of God’s Mosaic Law (as if He didn’t know it?) Scripture says they are trying to “trap” Him and accuse Him. They want to see if He will pronounce the death sentence violating Roman law stating Jews could not kill a person.
What is He doing with His finger? Nobody knows for certain. I like to think Jesus is symbolizing what God, the Father did in writing the 10 commandments. His response to the questioning follows rabbinic style. He puts the issue on them to think and act upon. “If any of you are feeling proud enough, pick up the first rock and fire the first shot.”
The “older” (symbolizing wiser) ones leave first. The woman is left alone to face her sentencing. Like a rabbi, He asks, “Where are your accusers?” Then adds, “Is there no one to condemn you?” Notice – she is asked to make her own declaration, “No one” is there to sentence her.
Jesus closes the hearing by saying “I don’t either” and then warns-commands her to “leave her life of sin.” I wonder, could self-condemnation be part of her sin? Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.
The order of Christ’s words is very important. He didn’t say, “Sin no more and then I won’t condemn you.” That’s what religious people like to say: “Clean up your act and then we will accept you.” Jesus says, “I will forgive you and give you the power to clean up your act.” We don’t change in order to be accepted; we change because we have already been accepted. What her next steps are, and how that applies to you, I’m leaving up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit during your time together. I sincerely hope the “accusers’ of this world learn a lesson as well. It’s a terrible thing for a sinner to fall into the hands of his fellow sinners.
Pastor Bill Baltz is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.