What does this encounter teach me, a 52-year old woman in the last few days of 2011? Instinctively I connect with her vulnerability and fallibility. In a world dominated by men in positions of authority, she was especially vulnerable. That she made a poor and compromising choice is not in question. The encounter tells us though that she made it out of a very unhappy place.
Over the next few weeks the Truth is The Word posts will be written by different authors, each responding to the various Jesus encounters I have written recently. I hope that you will enjoy their varying perspectives and that your knowledge of Jesus will be deepened and enriched!
The starkness of her poor choice resounds in the betrayal. Utterly vulnerable utterly forsaken and utterly lost, she lies abandoned at Jesus’ feet, expecting the worst possible punishment for her sin. Her nakedness enhances her fragility and I connect again with her frailty in the situation.
Because I too have made poor decisions in my lifetime, some sinful, some in response to hurt, some out of ignorance and some with the best intentions in mind. Had I known how frail and vulnerable I would feel in the wake of their consequence, and the cost both personally and to those closest to me, I doubt I would have made the choice in the first place.
As a result, I fully expect the beatings of the crowd and I brace my body for the fatal blows of the rocks in their hands – punishment consequent to the crime committed and decisions taken. So much of this thinking still permeates my own thought life even after a 20-year journey with Christ. Self-condemnation is a burden I am only too eager to take up.
Yet in this encounter, condemnation resounds only in the thuds of the rocks being dropped as the accusers find no target other than the recognition of their own wasted thoughts and nature. The small puffs of dust as each rock is dropped, punctuate Christ’s consummate sense of justice and triumph over human judgment.
Powerful, authoritative and unquestionably wise, he masterfully and quietly overcomes the challenges of his accusers and those of the woman abandoned at his feet. The man has spoken with words written in the dust, and justice has been served. His hand extended in love and reassurance to this woman, and to me, is His only sentence. I am helped to my feet to stand again.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” I say. Then in a voice thick with compassion he says, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Prospects of a second chance, a new day, and a fresh beginning with no condemnation attached. The gift of life is mine once more to take.
~ Written by Kerry Botha