Words of Hope: Accused and Accuser
Jesus always touches me. I am reading about His interaction with the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery. He takes a woman who had done wrong. She was morally guilty, and He showed her forgiveness. He takes a judgmental, self-righteous, religiously zealous group and sends them one by one away in guilt and self-responsibility.
Paul Tournier writes in his book Guilt and Grace, “Jesus wipes the guilt away from one and arouses guilt in another.” How often do I find myself as both the accused and the accuser? Jesus doesn’t awaken guilt to accuse, but to save. Dad and I often discussed how one person can tell us something we are doing wrong, and we feel more burdened, condemned, and judged. Another person can tell us something we are doing wrong, and we feel loved, inspired to change, and set free. I see this as the Spirit of God in that person, moving me to health and restoration. I also see how much I want to judge without mercy, without knowing the whole story, without compassion.
Someone got a ticket in our house recently. It was expensive. The photo ticket came in the mail and showed the car which was not one I typically drive, and at first, I was furious. Then I realized it could have been me driving after all. As soon as I considered that I may have been the one behind the wheel that day, I felt much more compassionate. I became a companion in repentance and wanting grace. God asks me to be in the position of the sinner, the broken, the weak, the accused. He does not want me to live as an accuser, self-righteous, the judge, the condemner. Jesus defends sinners, children, the despised, and outcasts. He condemns those who condemn and judges those who act righteous. I want to be in the presence of Jesus—this requires me to lay down my desire to accuse.
As Jesus was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
– John 8:3-11