Woman on a hillside
Sunday, April 7, 2019
From John 8
Early in the morning, while Jesus was teaching on the Mount of Olives, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand before him.
Flat bright sunlight shrieks and flashes off the stones. The woman does not stand for long; she falls in fear. But the men pull her up again, force her to face front, and she knows she is about to die.
Jesus knows when to speak, and now he’s silent. For such a long time, the scribes and Pharisees just wait. They really are accusing him, hoping he will pardon her so they can pound him with the Law. Stone the woman, crucify the man, this man the people seem to love. But he just stoops and takes up a stick. Writes something in the dirt, and does not speak. The men persist. Tell us, Jesus, what should we do with this God-forsaken whore?
It is not the sun that flashes now. Jesus eyes are hard. He stands and looks with anger on the men, and speaks at last. His wise words are priceless, never-to-be-forgotten. “The one among you who is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone.”
Jesus listened to his Father, and only spoke the words he heard. There was nothing else. He stooped, and again began to write. He no longer looked at her accusers, he no longer looked at the woman on the ground. He gave them all time to look inside themselves. And gradually, one by one, the crowd dispersed, their thirst for blood turned by introspection.
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Places in the Heart, set in rural dust bowl depression Texas, 1934. Well into the story, five masked members of the Ku Klux Klan ambush widow Edna’s helper, Moze. Mr. Will, her blind boarder, hears them fight and finds a gun. Finding his way outside by following the shouting voices, Mr. Will’s shots mark the ground just in front of each white-robed killer. They cry out for him to stop. As he runs of out of bullets, he begins to call them all by name. Mr. Simmons, Mr. Shaw … they are unmasked, uncovered, and they disperse. Mr. Will and Moze come close, they hold each other.
Moze cannot stay, he knows he must move on. But in the movie’s final scene, it’s like everyone in church has heard those strong and simple words of Jesus to the woman on the hill. “You’re still here? I do not condemn you. Now go. Go and sin no more.”
There is So Much Freedom in those words!
I hear you say those words to me, Lord. And I know how free I am not to sin. When I turn toward you, I feel the sun, the warmth, the peace and quiet in your eyes for me. Why should I ever turn away to some tiny, tin-can substitute for the love you always give?