Daily Dose, Jan. 16 — All Things New

          When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’ (John 8:9-11)
The scene is powerful. I can almost feel the hateful gaze of the men standing around her. I can imagine not only the shaming words that are thrown in her direction, but also the razor-sharp tone in which those words are flung. I can imagine that with each new insult, the crowd gets more and more riled up. And she shrinks a little every time something is said. She knows her wrongdoing. She is, now more than ever, painfully aware of her sin. She doesn’t need to be reminded any more…especially now that it’s in the public square, literally “in front of God and everybody.” This Bible story - a woman caught in adultery - has captured my imagination since I was a teenager. There are many layers to this encounter. More than anything, I’ve always been drawn to the woman who is brought before the group - and before Jesus. I think about how any of us feel when a sin, a misstep, a wrongdoing are made public. It’s humiliating and painful, regardless of what the specific wrongdoing is. I think of something I’ve said for a long time: “Unhealthy people do unhealthy things.” This helps me have compassion for the woman - and for any one of us when our sins find us out. And then I’m drawn to Jesus’ response to the woman. With one statement, he was able to scatter the judgmental crowd. He doesn’t run them away with brute force, but rather with the simple confrontation of their own sinfulness. Jesus then stands face to face with the woman, now standing alone. And he makes things new for her. He doesn’t stand in condemnation of her, but offers her new life and forgiveness. He invites her to go from this encounter and leave her life of sin. The new begins NOW! No matter what our own sins, missteps, and misdeeds are, Jesus offers the same invitation to us. He doesn’t condemn you. He loves you. He invites you to leave the sins in the past. The new - for you - begins NOW! --Rev. Brad Greene