The following is a devotional written by Rev. Kristin Heiden at Roswell UMC in Roswell, Georgia. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a blessed Holy Week!
Monday, March 14
Free to Forgive
They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, "Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone." Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?" She said, "No one, sir." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore." John 8:7-11
The Pharisees once again try to trap Jesus, as they present to him a woman caught in adultery. They remind Jesus that law states she should be stoned as a result of her egregious act. They then ask Jesus, “What do you say?” They think they have him now - if he says to stone her then maybe he isn’t so different from the teachers of the day, and if he says she is not to be stoned then they can accuse him of disobeying the law of Moses. But, in typical Jesus fashion, he responds in a new way - only he who is sinless may carry out the punishment. Of course, none of the Pharisees can honestly say they have never sinned, and so the woman is left without any accusers.
I think we can identify with a lot of the characters in this story, whether we want to or not. How often have we been the woman, caught in our sin and awaiting the punishment that will come? Frightened, embarrassed, ashamed, we stand before God and our peers feeling dirty and exposed. But, have we not also been like the Pharisees, quick to point out the sins in the lives of others? We may feel a sense of pride and our ego is boosted as we position ourselves as greater or holier than the sinner. But, that feeling is fleeting, as it is not long after that the situation is reversed once more.
Jesus sets us free from both characters, reminding us that, yes, we are all sinners, but that we all are deserving of forgiveness. May we seek to live a different life, not of the accusers or of the accused, but of the forgiven and redeemed people of God.
Let us pray:Forgiving God, how quick we are to see the sins in the lives of others and seek to judge them, ignoring our own sinful nature. Help us to live into the freedom of forgiveness for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering that we are not to cast stones but to live a life transformed by your grace and forgiveness. Amen.