Throwing Stones

We were going through John 8 at Bible study last night. The sophomores in high school had blank looks on their faces as we tried to get at the heart of this passage. Here’s the text:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the groupand said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?”They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.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 stoneat her.”Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

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.” John 8:3-11

We talked about what it meant for Jesus to defend this woman caught in sin. One of the guys offered up that this passage teaches us not to judge because we’ve all screwed up. And this is true, there’s definitely a message about that in there. It’s clear that we have no rights as sinners to be throwing stones at others whose sin has been exposed. But stopping there, we are missing what I feel is the root of this passage. The Bible is a book about God. He is both the author and the main character and the story centers around Him. As an infinite and perfect being, how could it not? So reading this passage and any other passage, the question has to be asked, “What does this tell me about God?”

It speaks volumes that the only one who does have the right to throw stones in this story, Jesus, doesn’t so much as pick up a pebble. In His perfection, He came not to condemn the world but to save it. He shows this woman that He loves her by interceding for her. he steps into the fray and puts His neck out for her in front of the leading religious authorities of the day. He is her advocate. He is for her. After this, He says “Go and sin no longer,” not for some futile attempt to earn His love, but for a more full picture of His love. A life lived for Him has so much more purpose and meaning than our old selves could even wish for. Within the framework of His teachings and in the context of relationship with Him, we find the freedom that our hearts so desperately desire.

“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:34-36 (emphasis added)

Break

In college, I think you learn more during the breaks. There’s something about stepping away from your life. Stepping back from everyday life, you realize some things that you can’t see up close. This thanksgiving break has been a full 18-hour credit load of blessings.

7 Reasons for thanksgiving realized over break:

1. Family: I don’t think you fully appreciate your family until you go to school. I could write a whole post on this alone and probably will sometime. My family, nuclear, extended, etc., knows me, loves me, and never lets me question those two things.

2. Old friends: It’s an amazing thing to be able to pick up friendships right where they left off. I’m blessed to have so many relationships like that to come home to.

3. Pillow Talk: There’s nothing like your own bed, but I sure missed pillow talk with my roomie. Those last five minutes before sleep are when conversational greatness occurs.

4. Homes: It happened a couple days ago. Someone asked me when I was driving back to Waco. “I’m driving back home on Sunday.” Wait a second…did I just call Waco home? Yeah, I did. And it’s not like Ames isn’t. It dawned on me I’ve two places where I’m in community, two places where I’m loved, two places I’m on mission, both of them with just the right mix of comforts and challenges. I’ve got two homes, and they’re beautiful different and alike in all the right ways.

5. He put a ring on it: Wednesday, my brother got down on one knee and asked my soon-to-be sister, “Emily Cole, would you go with me?” Her response, “por supuesto,” Spanish for “of course.” Despite their unconventional proposal verbiage, I can assure you that they are very much engaged and ready to live life together, dedicated to serving each other, their God, and the people around them. To symbolize this, after he asked, Miles washed Emily’s feet right there on the dirt path, He used his Nalgene water bottle and a washcloth. What a stud. I couldn’t be more excited about these two lovebirds and to help his fiancé out, I wrote her a couple tips for the Nichols( my mom’s maiden name) annual thanksgiving gathering. Which brings me to another realization

6. Thanksgiving with the Nichols: This one I’ve known for a while, but no one, and I mean NO ONE, has more fun on Thanksgiving than the Nichols family. To give you an idea of the experience, here’s a couple pieces of advice I offered Emily.

  1. Practice your farmer talk with Uncle Craig and Randy. Throw around words like yield, bushel, and acreage, ask them about their combine, and tell them you’ve been praying for rain
  2. Ask Cousin Sam or James about their no-huddle offense football coaching schemes. Sit back and relax and enjoy their 30 minute answer.
  3. Ask cousin Rich if he has any pictures of cows on his I-phone. He will. Proceed to compliment their bone structure and deep, rounded flank.

7. The gospel:  but I’d be leaving out the greatest reason for thanksgiving not just on the Holiday designated by President Lincoln(great movie by the way) but every single day. Friday, I got up early, and by early I mean 9:00, and went on a run. The shorts and t-shirt was a bad call, I realized that when I ran over a bridge and saw a thin film of ice on the creek. The good call was the Tim Keller sermon I listened to as I ran. He preached about money( yeah I know, preachers are always preaching about money) but this one was different. He talked about our treasure, where our treasure is, our heart will be and our lives will be. And then he related that to Jesus. Jesus died for us. Keller says people don’t just die for anything. They die for what they treasure. See what he’s getting at? We are Jesus’ treasure. Realizing and dwelling in that truth makes everyday a holiday.