A group of Democrats, stones in hand, came up from the left and threw Donald Trump at the feet of Jesus. Simultaneously a group of Republicans, stones in hand, came up from the right and threw Nancy Pelosi to the exact same spot! Truth be told, I am probably the one who should be stoned. Tuesday morning, I was talking about how blessed we who live in Michigan were going to be that evening – first our president, and then our governor, speaking on national television. However, when the time came, I was so engrossed in two college basketball games that I totally forgot about what the major networks were covering.
John the son of Zebedee records the story this way: The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say?” … Jesus bent down on the ground. But when they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8.3-8)
Believe it or not, I am not the least bit interested today in taking sides with one political party or another, or even talking about the policies or behaviors of anyone on the national, state, or local scene. The one my attention is focused upon today is the one character who appears in both stories above. His name is Jesus.
I am bedazzled by how Jesus stands out in the story. No other character can compare … in either paragraph. A few simple words and the stones are dropped. The accusations cease. Lives are changed. He both condemns and acquits all in the same unpretentious way.
I am not certain what the best antonym for bedazzled is, but I find a person standing out in sharp contrast to Jesus in the second half of that first paragraph. His name is Mark (sometimes called Hetz). It humbles me as I realize that all the evil characteristics I identify in the rest of the characters in the story – save the bedazzling one – are found in me. And then something hits me – no, it’s not the stone that I deserve. It is the impact of Jesus’ words, spoken directly to me. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” I am both condemned and acquitted … and “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses me from all sin.” (1 John 1.7)
I don’t need any more Tuesday night fights … or days of rehashing afterwards. I need the One – for what it’s worth (do you remember that Buffalo Springfield song from 1966?) – who does more than stand out as he tells me that I’ve got to beware. He is the One who stands up for me … as he lays down his life for me … and assures me that I will be raised up with him on the Last Day.
Now, hopefully without stirring up any more Tuesday night fights, I am going to try and figure out what is meant as God through Peter (AKA the Rock) tells me, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2.16-17)