John 8:7 Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.
I have always loved the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery as it is a beautiful picture of how Jesus responds to us in our destruction. In the story, the Pharisees brought this woman caught in adultery. Never mind who she was adultering with, the Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus. Would He harshly condemn this woman to death? It was God’s own law which commanded such a sentence. Would He, out of mercy, ignore God’s rules?
The Pharisees, looking to corner Jesus, walked into their own trap. Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. One by one, they dropped their heads and their stones, walking away. Jesus gave them permission to be judgmental but required them to first declare their own perfection.
This is how Jesus comes to us in our destruction. He does not condemn us but provides an unconditional love, not based on performance. As He showed love and compassion to the woman, He does the same for us, reaching out to save us from our destruction. We do not earn his love with our behavior. Even in our worst disaster, He continues to love.
This is not how I do things. I am the Pharisee, condemning and judging others who sin differently than I do. I forget where I have been and what I have done. I feel that as I have stopped engaging in one destructive behavior, I may now condemn others who are struggling. I have dealt with my addiction, why can’t you? Jesus bids me to look inward. In doing so, I see that I still have defects, and therefore have no moral high ground from which to look down on others.
In our destruction, Jesus loves and saves us but He does not stop there. With his love comes truth. After the Pharisees walked away and Jesus was left alone with the woman, He turned to her destructive behavior. Go, and from now on sin no more. Jesus’ love was unconditional but He did expect it to change her. Jesus told her that as He had saved her, she must turn from her destructive, sinful life.
I do not do this well either. I either condemn someone, abandoning love, or I love them, abandoning truth. I mistakenly think that loving someone means ignoring destructive behavior. I have a hard time loving someone and speaking plainly about sin.
Jesus does both. He unconditionally loves but also insists that we change our ways. He saves us from our destruction and asks that we not return to it. His love is not based on our performance but it does expect a response. He will not stop loving if we continue to fail, but neither will He stop insisting that we need to change. God can love us and be disappointed by our destructive behavior.
As with the adulterous woman, God loves us, saving us from ourselves but also commands us to abandon our pursuit of destruction to follow him.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.