Day 24: Picking up the Shards

John 8:2-11

Common English Bible (CEB)

2 Early in the morning he returned to the temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, 4 they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” 8 Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. 9 Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.

 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”

 11 She said, “No one, sir.”[a]

   Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”[b]

 

You know how they say “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”? If it wasn’t so expensive, I say all Christians should live in houses like the one above. Then again, if we did that, we’d all wind up homeless.

It certainly would help us realize what Jesus was trying to get across here.

This story is one of my favorites in the bible. It’s also one of the most convicting ones for Christians. All these stories that come before, of Jesus calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, of the pharisees trying to do their best to live up to the Torah the best way they know how, leads to this. It’s an example of letting a good thing like the law get in the way of seeing the living Torah in Jesus, and that Torah, much like the one written down, is based on a single precept.

Love. Caritas. Agape. Whatever language you want to call it, it all means the same thing. Selflessness. Compassion. Mercy. Justice. Peace. Love.

It’s the one thing we’re called to do. It’s also the one thing we fail at most spectacularly.

For a group of people that say they follow Jesus, who preached the coming Reign of God as defined by peace through justice, mercy, and compassion and love, we sure do fail at loving people a lot. I do it all the time. I’m not exempting myself; I can’t. Jesus sure doesn’t make any exceptions. Everyone has sin. Everyone has failed at some point, yet we always seem to be the first people to single out certain people as “worse sinners” than we are.

How do you judge which sin is worse? All of them are equal in God’s eyes. All of them mean us missing the mark, the ideal life that God had in mind for us. Is adultery a worse sin than greed? Is slander a worse sin than gluttony? Is pride a worse sin than lust? All of them are bad. And all of us have committed one, at some point in time.

Jesus says for those without sin to cast the first stone, and people recognized their own sin, and walked away.

If he said the same today, I doubt we would get the hint.

Not when we build crystal cathedrals, that is.

 

 

You see it on the television. You hear it on the radio. People claiming superiority over others because of what they believe, and that belief means ostracizing and condemning people who don’t fit into their categories.

That’s not how Jesus operated, and that’s not how we should operate. We’re all messed up. We’re all broken. All our houses have been shattered at some point. However, throwing more stones isn’t the way to fix a glass house.

The way you fix a glass house is to try and pick up the pieces, and that takes cooperation,  lots of patience, and compassion. Mercy. Love. Nobody was left to condemn, once the people recognized their own sin.

The only person left to condemn was Jesus. And you know what he said.

“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”

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About grantimusmax

Grant Barnes, aka Grantimus Maximus, aka The Nerdcore Theologian. He is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology with a Masters Degree in Divinity. He is also a commissioned elder in the United Methodist Church, and Senior Pastor at Hemphill First United Methodist Church and Pineland United Methodist Church. He graduated from Texas State University Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in English, minor in History. He watches way too many movies, reads too many books, listens to too much music, and plays too many video games to ever join the mundane reality people claim is the "Real World." He rejects your reality, and replaces it with a vision of what could be, a better one, shaped by his love for God.
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One Response to Day 24: Picking up the Shards

  1. pathoffman88 says:

    It may be my strict Lutheran background, but I can definitely relate to the whole “everyone is just as bad a sinner as I am” way of looking at people. I agree that it is important to keep in mind that just that recognition alone isn’t enough, we have to try and pick up the pieces, not throw more stones, as you so eloquently put it.

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