|From Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ"|
Recently, I spoke at our women’s bible study on The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery in John 8 (click here, if you’d like to listen to it), and two words keep coming back to me, as the weeks have passed. I have been reciting them to myself, asking the Lord to show me how to trust these words and Him, as I live and love.
But Jesus …
The woman caught in the act of adultery stood condemned. She was outwardly condemned as others looked down on her for what she did, with plans to stone her, and I’m pretty sure inwardly condemned, as she looked in at her choices.
The word condemnation has a critical overtone. A harsh, humiliating, demeaning, feel that says, “you’re wrong. You’re bad. You’ve failed.”
When I stand in the sand with this woman, I can relate. Maybe you can, too. Different circumstances, different choices, different stories, but similar experiences of condemnation with resulting shame.
Condemnation will come in this life. I don't like it, but it will.
Sometimes others judge us, belittle us, tell us verbally or non-verbally, that we are worthless. We may have been treated harshly, been humiliated and been hurt because of the judging actions of others.
Sometimes we condemn ourselves. Filled with shame and guilt over choices that we’ve made, we hold ourselves captive to condemnation.
And sometimes we experience condemnation from the evil one. He tries to put us down and tempt us to hopelessness. He wants us to think that we are too much, too late, and too far gone.
Condemnation will come in this life -- but Jesus ...
The woman in this story is dragged in to the presence of Jesus, and a crowd of onlookers. The religious leaders are using her as bait to trap Jesus; they don’t care about her. Jesus knows that, and he does the unexpected. He turns things upside down. He is radically different, extremely different!
“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger.” (John 8:6b).
In an amazing act of compassion and care, all eyes went to Jesus and off of her.
Why does He do that? I can’t be sure, maybe that just how Jesus is; He gave her the gift of relief. Shortly after that in the story, He would give her an even greater relief, the gift of freedom and forgiveness, when he said to her, “… neither do I condemn you. Go now, and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).
He does the same for us. Outwardly, others may put us down. Inwardly, we may put ourselves down, but Jesus …
Two simple but profound words that we can remember and rehearse when the world closes in -- but Jesus.
I would like to share with you what I read at the end of the lesson that day. I don’t know where you are today, but maybe you are in need of a reminder that you are seen by the Lover of your Soul, and that He is here for you, willing to give you relief and freedom.
Others may put you down for what you’ve done or not done, but Jesus … He stands for you, and is here to help you.
You may put yourself down, but Jesus … He loves you.
Others may treat you like trash, but Jesus … He sees you as a treasure.
Others may use you like an object, but Jesus … to Him you are a person, with great value.
You may feel poorly about yourself, but Jesus … You matter to Him.
You may feel abandoned and rejected, but Jesus … He will never leave you nor forsake you.
You may feel alone, but Jesus … He is present and embraces you.
You may feel like you are mistake rather than made a mistake, but Jesus … He does not shame you, making you feel like you are a mistake. He created you and made you for a purpose.
You may feel humiliated, but Jesus … He does not humiliate you, He holds you.
You may be unjustly judged, but Jesus ... He sees and knows all.
You may have lost your way, and are scared that you’ll never find your way, but Jesus … despite our problems and our mistakes, He shows us the way to walk with Him.
You may feel hopeless, but Jesus ... He gives us hope. He is our hope!
You may feel like a ‘nobody,’ but Jesus … He thinks your somebody, somebody important enough to die for.
But Jesus -- But Jesus --But Jesus