Thursday, December 15, 2022


There's a woman in the Gospels who is in probably the worst predicament we could imagine - yes, even worse than the demon-possessed man chained in the cemetery. She is the woman caught in adultery. 

Remember when Jesus was talking in the Sermon on the Mount about lust, and He clarified that if a man even looks at a woman with intent in his heart, he's committed a sin? Yeah, that wasn't popular teaching yet by this point. So when we say that this woman was caught in adultery, she was caught in the actual act of sexual contact with a man who was not her husband. 

Then, they dragged her to Jesus. 

They dragged her to the man-called-Messiah, the prophet, the One known for healing and for saying weird things, and the truth is that their bringing her to Him was two-fold: first, they wanted her adultery punished, but they also wanted to see if they could catch Jesus in something (like they were always trying to catch Jesus in something). 

So when we imagine this story, we imagine this woman who is either naked or who has some kind of covering thrown sloppily around her, whatever she was able to get on her body as she was being taken away from her tryst. Trust me, the men absolutely did not care whether she was naked or not; at this point, having caught her in the act, they were probably already calling her things like "whore." 

We have, then, a woman exposed. Ashamed. Insulted. Standing before Jesus with the voices of the many condemning her, in front of this very righteous man.

Maybe she's heard of Jesus. Maybe she's heard about this Teacher. Maybe she's even wanted to meet Him, thought about going out to the seashore one of these days. Maybe something about Him draws her heart for some reason she can't quite pin down. 

If that's the case, I promise you - this is not how she planned the encounter to happen. This is not how she wanted to meet Him. This isn't what she had in mind. She was going to sneak into the crowd and listen for awhile - maybe, actually, she already has. But whatever she's dreamed of or whatever opportunities she's had, that's all out the window right now. She is standing here face-to-face with Jesus at the lowest moment in her life, and every single voice says He has to condemn her. 

Then, He doesn't. 

He doesn't say anything, in fact, but rather, stoops down and starts doodling in the dirt. When He finally speaks, His words are not to the woman caught in adultery, but to the crowds shouting condemnation - let he who is without sin cast the first stone. 

And just like that, He dismisses the crowds. One by one, they walk away, leaving just Jesus and the woman. 

And He doesn't even condemn her now. 

Instead, He sets her free. 

There are so many in this world who have heard about Jesus, who have maybe even wanted to meet Him, and...that meeting doesn't go as they planned. They're dragged to the Cross in their worst moment, their most shameful moment, exposed and ashamed and probably afraid, and they hear the calls of the "righteous" that Jesus has to condemn them. 

Then, He doesn't. 

Instead, He speaks to the self-righteous until they all go away, leaving one tender, sacred moment between Savior and sinner, dust on His feet and dirt on His fingers and nails in His hands. And He sets them free, the one thing they most needed for Jesus to do for them. The Releaser they most needed Him to be. 

These kinds of encounters happen all throughout the Gospels, and they are still happening today. Only because He has come.


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