Drop the Rock: Jesus’ Grace and Truth
A woman screams in terror as a mob of religious leaders push and shove her towards the city temple. She’s half-dressed because the group of condemners had plotted and waited to catch her in the act. Arriving at the temple steps, the angry crowd shoves her to the ground. She’s covering her face with her hands, ashamed and terrified of what will inevitably happen next.
She hears one of her accusers shout out to the man who’s teaching inside the temple. She doesn’t recognize the teacher, now walking towards her, and keeps her head down.
“This woman was caught in bed with a man who is not her husband. The law says she should be stoned. What do you say?”
She knows the answer.
Whoever it is they’re asking is obviously a religious leader and, as such, must follow the letter of the law of Moses. She clenches her arms around her waist and holds her breath, waiting for his response. The screaming crowd grows quiet and she realizes the teacher has bent low next to her.
“What is he doing?” She wonders in disbelief, “Why is he so close to me?”
Without looking up, she sees from the corner of her eye that he’s writing something in the sand. She can’t quite make out the letters but notices that as the crowd reads the words, they begin to back up.
Another of the religious leaders shouts out to the teacher, still crouched next to her, “What will you do with this adulteress?!”
Still, the teacher stays close and continues writing in the sand. She can hear the crowd muttering in frustration. A few of the spectators begin to walk away.
“What is happening?” She can hardly contain the mix of emotions swirling around inside of her. Suddenly, the teacher stands up. Looking out at the crowd, with a voice of strength and authority he says,
“Let he who is without sin, throw the first stone.”
Turning around, he kneels next to the woman and continues writing in the sand. The silence is broken by the sound of a rock dropping. Then another rock falls. Slowly, quietly, the religious leaders turn away, leaving the rocks behind. The woman takes what feels like the first breath in hours and turns to look behind her. She locks eyes with the man who just saved her life. He reaches out his hand and helps her to her feet. She can’t look away.
With a kindness she’s never known before, the teacher asks, “Is there anyone here to condemn you?”
She’s shaking and barely able to whisper the words, “No, teacher. There is no one left.”
She watches as his eyes continue to soften while at the same time speaking with the authority he used in addressing the crowd just moments before,
“I don’t condemn you either. Now, go and sin no more.”
The apostle John described Jesus as being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
But Jesus’ truth is not condemnation. It is safety and freedom and the assurance of promises fulfilled and it is by this truth that we are set free. As Jesus extends grace, it doesn’t look like mere tolerance, but rather unexpected favor and loving kindness.
When we look to the life of Jesus, we see grace and truth woven together beautifully. He wraps the vulnerable and the rejected and the poor and the outcast up in his garment of grace and truth and under its weight they find peace and forgiveness and freedom.
May we learn this dance of grace and truth as we interact with those Jesus loves.
No tension. No paradox. No “either, or.” Not two opposing forces that must be kept in check, but a free-flowing river of loving kindness and compassion and the good news of the gospel. It’s the getting low and getting close and whispering, “I don’t condemn you.”
It’s the offering our hand and lifting each other up and pointing one another towards a better way.
Amber is a California girl living in a PNW world and loving it. She is wife to her high school sweetheart and mama to three world-changers, ages 4,7, and 9. Amber works from home while attending graduate school where she is studying to be a Trauma Informed Therapist. She is committed to empowering others towards kindness and empathy.