Grateful. There was no other word for it. The truth was she should be dead. But she wasn’t. She had stared death in the face and walked away from it unhurt all because of one man.
The irony wasn’t lost on her. She was almost killed by a group of men because of a man but in the end was saved because one man said the words: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
The story of the woman caught in adultery as told in John 8:1-12 is one that is always good for stirring up a debate in the Coote household. We have a lot of questions about this tale. Questions like:
“If the woman was caught ‘in the very act’, where was the man with whom she was fornicating?”
“Was the man among those who would have stoned her to death?”
“Was it a trap that they had laid for her?”
“What exactly did Jesus write on the ground? Was he perhaps writing the commandments … or was he just doodling?”
I imagine her standing there, naked, except for maybe the sheet that she was able to grab off the bed as they hauled her away. Her hair is tangled around her face for which she’s thankful because it helps her to hide her face. She bows her head low. It’s one thing to sleep with a person’s husband; it’s quite another to be brought into the temple before a crowd of people on the verge of being stoned to death by an angry mob.
She had known the penalty. She had known it before the first kiss, before the decision to take it to the next level. Yet she had never thought it would happen to her. In the illicit moments all she had felt was joy, power, and excitement – there had been no thought of the consequences that she would face if caught.
Maybe the man had assured her that he loved her and maybe he even told he was willing to die for her. Yet here she was, alone.
Exposed in her sin.
Set on display in front of the congregation and the Great Teacher. She closes her eyes and waits for the first blow. She imagines how it would feel when the first stone connected with her flesh. So great was her imagination that she actually felt it. The pain was excruciating but she was determined to bear it.
She waits but nothing happens.
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
She is surprised by the words. She was dead now for sure. These were the religious leaders – the holy ones. They were perfect. Of course they would start throwing stones!
The sound was like a physical blow and she jolts expecting pain. Thud! Thud! Thud! The rocks fall like a thunderstorm but none of them connect with her flesh. In a few minutes there’s silence.
She looks around and realizes that the mob has retreated. She looks at the faces in the congregation. They are as shocked as she is. She knew the law. She had broken the Mosaic teaching. She deserved to die.
Yet here she was. Standing before Jesus. ‘Was this some sort of a trick?’ she wondered. ‘What was going to happen to her now?’ Eventually Jesus stands up and looks around. “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”
“No my Lord.” She replies.
“Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
I can only imagine how grateful she was when she heard those words. Maybe her gratitude welled up from a great spring within her until it spilled out as tears… maybe those words changed her life. I know they changed mine.
Imagine the sinless man who had the ability to throw the first stone gave her grace instead. Instead of condemnation he gave her life and a blessing. I don’t know how God has changed your life; I don’t know what wonderful gracious thing he has done for you, I only know that because of what he has done for us we should be living our lives as a testimony to what he has done.
His praise should be continually on our lips. We should bubble up praise and thanksgiving and joy. Yes, life may not be exactly how we want it but I know that there are still things that we can find to be grateful for.
What are you thankful for today? Share them with us in the comments below.
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