..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Woman, Where Are Your Accusers?

Woman, where are those accusers of yours?
Has no one condemned you? (John 8:10).

Guilty as sin. Yes, she was. Caught in the
very act, everyone had turned upon her,
everyone that is, except Jesus. It was the
ultimate “everyone is against me”, the
ultimate humiliation, the ultimate place
to know of God: ‘I am entirely at Your mercy.’

How often we feel the stones of accusation
being hurled at us. Accusation can come
from all sides: from our sin being found
out, from being misunderstood, even from
standing in obedience to God. However it
comes, it hurts. Whenever it comes, it is
meant to drive us deeper into our Lord.

Who can know the inclinations of our
hearts? So many reasons, so many
explanations, so many motives. The
woman, taken in adultery, had reasons
and explanations, of that you can be
sure. Now they all painfully caught
in her throat and in her deepest belly,
in this her darkest hour.

Why had it all come to this? Why had
things ended up the way they did? Why.
Why. Why. Jesus knew all about it. He
knew all about the others, also.

He knows about everyone. “He that is
without the first sin among you, let
him cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
Jesus begins to write on the ground:
names, places, events, no doubt. Coded
so that only the recipient it was meant
for would understand what was being
said: the graciousness of Jesus is
like that.

The oldest turns away first, the
oldest knowing, best of all, that
sin takes down even the most hopefully
pious of us. Each man turns away until
there is no-one. No one is left but
Jesus and the woman. Christ stops
scratching names, dates, places in
the dirt and looks up. He looks
straight into her soul, knows every
broken place, every sin, every hurt,
every pain, every promise gone bad,
every excuse.

“Woman, where are your accusers?
Is there no-one left to condemn you?”

If you are reading along with me in the
spirit of this, feel His gaze with me.
It is here that we are all undone. It is
at this point that we are all naked before
God: alone before Him, at His mercy: wretched
wreckages, thrown down in the sand to die.
Our accusers have done their job, pummelled
our souls, ripped the flesh from the bone,
left us for dead. They could have cared
less; our Lord, however, cares more. It
is here that we encounter the mercy of Christ.

“Woman, where are your accusers?
Has no-one condemned you?”

It is now that Jesus comes to us, without
accusation, only an admonition born of love:

“Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

It is on the pointed end of accusation
that we learn of the mercy of God. It is
when we are thrown down and trampled that
Jesus holds out His hand to us, not to
slap us, not to stone us, not to accuse
further, but to give us a hand up. When
no-one understands, when no-one takes our
side, when all stand in accusation, even
when we have been dead wrong, there is
still One who stands with us. He does
not condone the wrong. He calls us to
“sin no more.” When others misunderstand
us, He understand and stands with us.

Neither do I condemn you.”

When our obedience to God causes a
painful division, He soothes the
pain of human rejection. With Him is
understanding, and forgiveness and an
extended hand to come up higher. There
is no accusation in the heart of our
Lord. Thank God. May we believe how
easy it is to return to God if we
simply have a repentant heart.

May we know how accepted we are in
the Beloved, no matter what our
accusers say, no matter what we
have done or not done. So let us
swiftly rise up, return to Jesus,
and go and sin no more.

Our God is a God of infinite mercy.

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