“For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me;” (Psalm 22:16-17)
There are times when God reveals himself in the gentlest whisper that might easily be dismissed. At other times he shouts loud and claims our full attention. When we least suspect his presence, he comes with a startling encounter, crashing through and revealing his extraordinary truth. We are made for relationship with him, and he communicates with us in remarkable ways. The Gospel narrative is a window into lives completely realigned when Jesus came to town. The familiar ones can go unnoticed, but if we are careful they may provide insights too wonderful to ignore.
When the angry horde dragged the woman before Jesus, deception spewed out of them like an overflowing cesspool. This adulteress was nothing but another strategic weapon to entrap the one who dared to call himself the Son of God. Merciless and mean, they shoved her before the Master, daring him to intervene on her behalf.
He did. If you are without sin yourself, go ahead and throw a stone at her, he told them. One by one the rocks dropped from their self-righteous palms, and they slunk away aware he had thwarted their scheme once again. Jesus was left alone with the woman. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10)
“No one, Lord.”
The only man with the perfect right to heave a stone spoke. “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Her rightful penalty according to the law was a death sentence by stoning. Instead, she received forgiveness and freedom from the Messiah. He met her right where she was, trapped in sin, in the middle of ridicule and shame. He released her.
He does the same for us, but at the highest possible price. When the hordes dragged Jesus and threw him down before Pilate, no one was there to stop the stones that whipped the flesh right off his back. No one intervened when the thorns were jammed into his brow, blood flowing as if pelted by rocks. They hurled insults and accusations like jagged stones and pierced his hands and feet with excruciating nails. He took their blows, every one, for our shame, our sin, our condemnation.
In a hundred different ways he addresses us with his Word. “Neither do I condemn you, child. I took the death due to you. I went to the cross to free you forever from the curse of the law. The stones that should have been hurled at you for breaking my laws were thrown at me. My body bore the marks of every crushing blow. Go now and sin no more, beloved child. Since you call me Savior, no one can dare throw a stone in your direction anymore.”
“There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1)
Elizabeth A. Mitchell
Photo Credit:Paul Westel