Between the Lines

Posted by John Lindsay on 20th December 2011 in Christian Articles, Christian Arts and Entertainment, Faith-based Writers

Jesus is recorded in the book of John 8:6-8 to having twice stooped down to write on the ground. The first time was in response to those who were confronting him for defending the adulteress, and the second time was in order to give the accusers time to think. In between the two times he stooped down to write, he stood and said those immortal words, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone at her.” (KJV)

When we stand in the gap, our typical behavior is to intimidate the opposition physically by looking at them in the eye. Jesus lowered himself. Even after he wrote on the ground the second time he did not lift his eyes to watch the accusers retreat. He did not gloat. He merely asked the woman where her accusers were and told her to go and sin no more.

Was what Jesus wrote a distraction, or did it have significant meaning? The Bible does not say. We only know it was written and it was helpful in defusing the will of a mob which could have easily overpowered him physically. Everything Jesus did contradicts what most of us would do instinctively. Even the choice to multitask in this instance led to a more favorable result than if Jesus had given his full attention to the situation.

Christians have all considered the story of John 8 from the same perspective – from the outside looking in. The one thing which is certain about this story is the woman was guilty. She was caught by witnesses in the unlawful act. But who was she, and what situations or events led her to put herself into a position where the outcome could result in a most disgraceful and painful end?

Was she just young and naïve or was she pressured and coerced? Was she in love or punishing herself for another indiscretion as people often do? She may have been someone’s daughter. She could have been adopted. She may have had good influences or bad. The story does not say. It shows us only the snapshot of the culmination of events at that specific point in time.

When someone steals something, all of our attention shifts to the act and the quantity and quality of what was stolen. We rarely look at the crime for what it is: a symptom of something worse; something with self-sustaining power which can influence behavior even against one’s own better judgement.

Those who brought the woman before Jesus were not legally wrong. But it is curious how a group of people light upon two individuals in hiding at the very instance Jesus was available and in an open public place which would accommodate a large group of individuals. Was it a coincidence or premeditated? There had to have been a spy, at least two to subdue the man (who is never even mentioned in the account) unless he was also a part of the conspiracy, another two to handle the woman who would likely be resisting for her life as well as those in authority to condemn her. The bystanders gathered surprisingly quickly for people without any afore knowledge of what was being conspired. Is it so like man to concoct an elaborate plan to prove to himself God is wrong. Then again, it may have been done by the book without malice.

All of this was irrelevant from Jesus’ perspective. He was not affected emotionally by the circumstance as we would likely be. It made no difference to him whether the woman was wrong or coerced to be wrong or whether the accusers were right or using their righteousness to leverage him into contradicting himself. Jesus did not dwell on the act, which is the symptom of the problem. He did not allow himself to get sucked into a debate on the degrees or contributing factors of a crime. He saw through it all to the root issue.

Jesus’ defense could not have been more concise or to the point. It took into consideration the individual as well as the whole. God does not waist time as we do focusing on the symptoms of the problem. He exposes the real issue which far precedes the symptom of breaking the law. Jesus exposes the root issue in his final statement to her accusers which forced them to search within themselves. “He who is without sin…”

Sin is humanity’s number one problem. The second of which is our perception of sin. Sin is not the act of doing something unlawful. It is an inherent infection predisposing humanity to please itself, and, by doing so, reject the authority of God. Sin is what causes belief systems to malfunction even prior to the thought level. What we believe affects our thoughts and emotions which influence the will which determines choice which manifests in physical behavior.

How can we assume we are capable of changing our behavior without addressing our belief system? How can we address our belief system without first addressing sin? Who among us can solve the problems of his own making? We cannot remove the sin which dwells in us any more than we can clean a towel with dirty hands. The best we can do is move the sin from one place in our heart to another. Working a lifetime will not remove a speck of dust. Therefore, only someone with clean hands will be capable of removing the sin from within us.

We run to judgement so quickly. We condemn based on the crime without giving consideration to the root issue. We inhibit rehabilitation and promote separation because of an infraction of which we are equally guilty. How complicated we tend to make of something quite simple.

No one has proven to be more qualified to be judge and defender than Jesus. No one else is better equipped to see beyond the accusations and deliver those willing to serve. It would be wise to stop reading between the lines and consider what God has made plain – sin is the issue and Jesus is the only remedy.

7 Responses to “Between the Lines”

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  2. John Says:

    Intetesting the way you used the phrase “between the lines” to frame Jesus’ quote “he who is without sin…” Was that intentional?

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