Mirrors of Dangerous Grace
Today's lectionary reflection comes to us from John chapter 7---a story commonly known as the "Woman Caught In Adultery." Let's read:
3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.If Jesus forgives the woman (which is what the overly-religious people here hope) then they will accuse him of violating the Torah. If he goes along with it, he could be turned over to the Romans for violating Roman law, which prohibits the Jews from executing people.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.What was Jesus writing? Maybe he wrote down the names of all who were present, and also included their own sins. Maybe he was just doodling and stalling.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”I like to imagine that the woman who had been dragged there, finally lifted her head when Jesus asked her, "Woman where are they?" and through a veil of tears saw that her accusers had all left.
She was confronted with her mistakes, to be sure. And the truth that she had fallen short of being her truest, best self. But Jesus showed her God's grace was more than enough to restore her, and give her hope.
I read this quote recently from Walter Wangerin, who said:
Mirrors that hide nothing hurt me. But this is the hurting of purging and precious renewal--and these are the mirrors of dangerous grace.This is what Jesus offers to us: an honest gaze into a mirror that hides nothing. It's hard to look into that mirror and admit that we are not as we ought to be.
It is dangerous grace indeed that points out our frailty, but this dangerous grace also gives us a glimpse of the ground around us, which is filled with nothing and no one, but Jesus drawing doodles in the dirt.
"Who is there to condemn us?" the Apostle Paul once asked, "No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us."
No matter what you have done... or what has been done to you... you are not condemned. The dangerous grace we find in Jesus sets you free and sends you out into the world to be your truest self.
May this be true for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.