“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” . . . “Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Verses 7 & 11 (NIV)
Have you ever run into any “power play” Christians? They are never wrong; their view and interpretation of scripture is always the right one and you are an inferior believer because you just don’t get the point they are trying to make. For the most part they are doing these things with a sense of sincerity and truly believing they are right. In our text today the power play is deliberate and has nothing to do with sincerity.
The story appears to have three simple steps. The religious leaders try to trap Jesus as they publicly shame a woman caught in adultery. But instead of falling for their trap, he silences them, and they leave. And then he forgives the woman.
If we look a little deeper, we can see there is more going on. We can even say that this story shows how meekness – that is, gentle, firm strength – is the spiritual power at work and can lead people to change their actions.
The religious leaders are doing more than exercising power plays, they are exercising spiritual abuse, first by shaming the woman and then by trying to undermine the ministry and the credibility of Jesus. Jesus, recognizing their awful abuse of spiritual power, avoids their trap by ignoring them at first.
Then, as they keep badgering, he responds, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” It’s as if he is saying, “Your abuse prevents you from receiving God’s grace. Come clean, confess your sin and surrender that godless power, and you too can find life.”
Then he calls the woman to die to her sin as well, and to be invited into true life.
The meek, life-transforming Saviour invites everyone to die and truly live! Who could have known that meekness could be so radically powerful and renewing?
Lord, open our eyes to reject spiritual power plays that pretends to be holy, so that your true life will shape and guide all we do. Amen