A friend recently sent me something he’d written about the time the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus.
You’ve likely heard the story, but in case you haven’t, here’s the skinny:
Jesus was at the temple teaching some folks and the Pharisees brought this woman out in front of everyone, declared she had been caught in the act of adultery, which the law of Moses said was punishable by stoning, and asked Jesus what they should do.
Jesus wrote some stuff in the dirt and said, OK, but let the one of you who has never sinned toss the first rock. The Pharisees realized they’d been outsmarted by someone who understood the law far better than themselves and left, while Jesus told the woman to go and leave her life of sin.
That’s a pretty bare-bones version, but if you want the full-length story, you have the internet, Google it.
When friend started breaking the story down, he began to focus on how the Pharisees were handling, or mishandling, the situation.
They’d apparently found this lady sleeping with a married dude somewhere, snatched her up, but yet let the dude off the hook.
That’s always kind of bothered me. I mean, what a bunch of jerks to just toss this woman’s life around like that, meanwhile the other party in that tango was off kicking back burritos from a food truck somewhere. (Yeah, I know the Bible doesn’t say that happened, but it doesn’t say that it didn’t happen either.)
So naturally I’ve always felt really good when I get to the part of the story where Jesus out smarts those dudes and sends them packing. Like, I kind of want high-five Jesus right there because in some way I feel like justice was served by them being embarrassed in front of all those people.
And, perhaps it was, but the more I thought about it, I began to realize that I was approaching this entire situation far more like a Pharisee, than like Jesus.
I was looking for some sort of righteous justice in the situation. First, I wanted to know where the cheating dude was so he could get his, and then I trying to high-five Jesus about sticking it to the Pharisees, while he was busy showing the woman forgiveness.
I tend to do this a lot in life. I get all self-righteous and head off into situations looking for opportunities for justice, to give people what they deserve, rather then opportunities to show them grace.
That seems kind of backwards from the way Jesus operated. He seemed to almost always be searching for the grace angle, someway which he could offer a person what they really didn’t deserve, in every situation.
And you know, I am extremely thankful for this because to be honest, the last thing I want, is to get what I deserve. The last thing I want is for Jesus to approach my situation as an opportunity for justice, rather than grace.
It would probably be wise for me to return the favor when approaching the situations of others.