We come to a story today about a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus will astound the crowd after He meets her. Jesus always seems to do the unexpected.
This is another one of Jesus’ stories that raise questions in me. Not questions of doubt but of “I wonder what…” Those are my favorite kind of questions because they let me slip my mind into the place of the actual participants. By imagining answers to my questions. I get to think a little deeper about the individuals in His stories.
Some bible scholars think this woman might have been Mary Magdalene or even Mary, Lazarus’ sister. We aren’t told about her identity beyond her situation. I would love to know more about her and how she found herself in this situation. Was she tricked? Was this her first time engaged in this sort of behavior? Was she a willing participant?
Another big set of questions I have revolves around the other person involved in this act. I don’t believe it is possible to commit adultery by yourself, so where is the other person? We see/hear nothing about him. Was he a part of the group who was accusing her? Was he a decoy or a plant? Was he aiming specifically for her as his victim?
Still another set of questions start with, what was Jesus writing in the sand? Was there a particular reason they all left from oldest youngest? I SO want to know what got them to drop their rocks and charges against this obviously guilty woman.
My final questions would have to do with the “now what” factor. What became of this woman after her encounter with Jesus? Did she join in with His followers? How did those watching this transpire treat her when they met her in the streets later? What did those who accused her do when they crossed paths again?
I know I will not be able to answer most, if any, of these questions before I bring them directly to Him during bench time, but I like to imagine anyway. I think one of the reasons I imagine what might have been is because I want to understand the person who Jesus helped. I want to see how they got to their “turning point” and which direction they went from it.
The woman brought before Jesus that day was definitely guilty. She had no excuse for her behavior. No justification. She was simply found out. I still wonder a bit about entrapment but that would only mitigate her guilt, not absolve it.
That day she alone was singled out to receive the just punishment of the law. Jesus could have rightly said yes to their plans. But they already knew He wouldn’t go along with their plans before they even brought her to Him. If they believed He would follow the law, why bother asking Him about the situation?
I believe she was brought to Jesus to see where He would draw the lines on mercy, grace and forgiveness. “If he lets THIS sin go unpunished, who knows what will happen to our society! What will He forgive next?!”
There is no limit to God’s grace. David says that His mercies are new every morning. That doesn’t mean there is no accountability for our actions, but that God is ready, willing and able to forgive us when we come to Him with a repentant heart.
So what happened with this woman’s heart that day? She received unexpected grace and forgiveness. I see NO WAY that she could not have been impacted by Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Her life was restored to her. I pray she used her new life better than she did her old life. If she got stares in the streets, did she remind them of the day Jesus reached out to her in love? Did she reach out to others with that same measure of love? Did she go back to her “partner in crime” and share Jesus’ words to her?
Thank You Lord for second chances (and third and fourth and…) in life. Thank You that you hold me in the palm of your hand. There is nothing I can do that will surprise You. Please forgive me for all the times I cross the “sin line.” I haven’t crossed this one line, but I am guilty of many others. Please help me draw nearer to You with every turning point/ Make me more like You each day. Thank You for your love!