Posts Tagged ‘condemnation’

Lenten Monologue-Woman Caught in Adultry

On Wednesday March 19th,  we heard a reading from the perspective of the woman caught in adultery that is brought before Jesus. This reading was based on John 7:53-8:11 and was based on the question “Has no one condemned you?” asked by Jesus.

This is the second in Underwood Lutheran’s series of Lenten worship services held on Wednesday evenings through the season. The overarching theme for Lent is the questions of Jesus. Each week we will hear a reading by a different Biblical character who was questioned by Jesus in their encounter.

History does not remember my name. Like countless others who have lived and died throughout the ages, the details of my life have been lost, and the history books do little to tell you who I am.
My name is not important, though rest assured that God knows my name. Like many others, I am very simply a Jewish woman. I lived my life as best I could. I knew the rules. I knew the law, everyone did. God gave it to Moses, and Moses gave it to the people.
Throughout our history, the history of the Jews, we have clung to the law to help us remember our identity as the chosen people of God. We have experienced countless years of heartache and enslavement. First my people were slaves in Egypt. Then we wandered in the wilderness for an entire generation. We could not maintain the promised land given to us by God, and we were invaded, carried off into exile around the world, first by the Assyrians, and then by the Babylonians. In my time, the Romans were in command, controlling our lives and overshadowing our way of life.
Through these trials, my people have been spread throughout the known world, never knowing where we could call home, or what would happen next. But the one thing that we clung to was the knowledge that God had given us the law, it was a blessing to help us honor God and one another. We all know it, and we all cling to it.
But sometimes life takes control away from us, and try as we might, we fail. That is what history remembers of me. When the Jewish leaders found out about my transgressions, they used me. Not out of any concern for me or for the law, but because they wanted to trap the man that they considered a threat. The man called Jesus of Nazareth. I had heard the name, but I knew nothing about him. Only that he was some sort of teacher and he was speaking out against the old ways.
I am not perfect. I have never claimed to be perfect. I have made mistakes. I have let myself get carried away, and I know that I have broken the law. I know that one of the 10 commandments is against adultery…and I also know that the expanded law states that anyone caught in adultery should be stoned to death. I do not deny it, and I do not deny what I did. I was guilty of what they said I did.
But what was strange was how the leaders handled the situation. Honestly, I don’t think they really cared about what happened…all they really wanted to do was trap Jesus. To discredit him so that people would stop listening to what he was saying; what he was teaching. If they really cared about the law, they would have brought the man along to. He was equally guilty, but they left him, and brought only me. Perhaps its because I couldn’t resist them, and I had no rights, I don’t know why. But that was the first clue that they really didn’t care what I had done.
The crowd brought me before this man Jesus as he sat in the temple one day. I was afraid. I knew I was guilty and if they followed the proper channels, I could be killed. They’d have to clear it with the other religious leaders first, and then with the Roman officials, but no one would stop them. I was a woman, I was unmarried with no one to speak for me, and I was guilty. Surely this would end with my death. Of course I was scared…and I was scared of this Jesus.
I only knew that he was a teacher…surely he would know the law and he would agree with the crowd. I was so afraid, I can hardly remember what they said, but I heard them address him. “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery. The law says we should stone her. What do you say?”
I stood there, humiliated and afraid. I had my eyes cast to the ground and didn’t dare try to meet the eyes of this man that would surly judge me as guilty…I just waited to hear him say it…but I didn’t hear anything. After a moment, I glanced his direction, and saw him bending over, writing in the dust on the ground. Why would he be doing that?
I never knew what he was writing, I was standing too far away, but that is all he did. He just sat there writing for a moment…and then finally he stood up.
That was the moment…the moment I was dreading, when this holy man, this great teacher from God would condemn me, but when he spoke, his voice was kind and calm…and he wasn’t speaking to me. “Let anyone among you who is without sin cast the first stone.”
I braced myself…for surely among this crowd of religious leaders would be sinless men. I knew, any second, the stones would start to fly and I would feel the agony of them biting into my flesh, pounding on my body. I tried to cover my head with my arms, fearing the worst was about to happen…and then I heard it.
First it was isolated. The sound of a stone being dropped, not thrown at me, but dropped on the courtyard floor, clattering on the stones below…and then footsteps. I glanced that direction and saw one old man walking away…and then another dropped his stone…and then another…soon they all dropped their stones and left…they just left me there…alone with this man Jesus.
And when I looked at him, he was writing in the dust again…and then he looked at me…there was no anger in his eyes…no hatred…there was only love and compassion. I stood up before him…and then he walked over to me and asked me, very gently “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
I was so shocked…and still so afraid…I barely whispered… “No one sir.” And then he looked at me with such love…such acceptance…and with a smile on his face he said “Neither then do I condemn you.”
In that moment, looking in his face, I knew…I knew that he was no mere holy man…this was the true Son of God…and he had forgiven me…he had every right to judge me guilty…to let them stone me…to agree with the crowd and follow the law…but he didn’t.
In that moment, I knew that God was not an angry judge waiting to strike us down when we failed to follow his law. Rather, he is a God that loves all people enough to offer them his perfect forgiveness.
Jesus told me then, to go forth and sin no more…and while I know that my life is still not perfect, I know now that my past…that my actions do not define me. Instead, I know that I am defined by how God sees me…as his beloved child. And that is how God sees you. No one on earth can condemn you, because your sins are already forgiven, just as mine were that day.

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