Where Are Your Accusers?
I got a chance to pray for a woman, of whom I knew nothing. When I sought the Lord for what to say, I immediately saw her face as the sinful woman caught in adultery and with Jesus pronouncing the phrase over her,"Woman, where are your accusers?" This took me directly to the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, who was brought before Jesus.
In that Biblical story, it was the perfect set up, by the Pharisees, to trap Jesus, the man of compassion. If he agreed that she deserved to be stoned to death for the sin of adultery, as stated in the law, his compassion would be compromised. but if he allowed her to go free, his support of the law would be compromised. In the mind of the teachers of the law, it was a lose-lose scenario.
But Jesus compromised neither his compassion or his upholding of The Law. He targeted the accusers instead. "Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." In essence he said, Sure, go ahead and stone her but let's begin with the sinless ones throwing the first rock. That's all he said. But within moments every accuser, rock in hand and boiling with self-righteous anger, was seen dropping their stone and leaving, in a disturbing silence.
Was the woman unable to see what was unfolding behind her? Would she even dare look behind her and scan the face of her angry accusers to see how they would respond? Did she even consider any better outcome from this encounter, than being stoned to death in the ensuing minutes.
In the light of being caught in the act of adultery, her mindset was most likely an expected outcome - death by stoning. She would pay the price, and she would forever be the example to Israel of the evils of adultery. Yes, she heard the rocks drop to the ground but it had no meaning for her. She was waiting for her well deserved punishment, and nothing could change her outcome. As I gazed at this Biblical story in my mind's eye, the short time gap between what Jesus asked the accusers and them leaving the scene, expanded in my mind's eye. It's as if I could feel a long time pass by before the adulterous woman became aware of the true happenings behind her.
So the phrase, "Woman, where are your accusers?" took on new light for me as I now prayed for this contemporary woman in front of me. It was God letting me know in this moment that this woman was still unable to fully grasp the work that Jesus had done and is now doing, in her. She had been fully set free from the shame and guilt of her past, accusers silenced, and yet the truth had not yet sank into her mind and heart. She needed a renewing of the mind to be able to see herself in the light of what Jesus had already done for her, not in the shadow of the guilt and shame of her past. He was reassuring her that those days were over, gone and done with. And that the new life, the abundant life in Christ, was knocking on her door.
When I relayed to her what I had heard and then shared how God was reassuring her that all the blessings, hope, and bright future He had for her, here on earth, were presently being limited by a mindset that expected only judgement and shame, she acknowledged in her reply that this was an area she had been really struggling with for a while now. Her honest questions were, "How do I overcome this present "wrong" mindset? How do I renew my mind so that I can enter fully into what God has for this forgiven, set free, and blessed woman that He says I am?"
We talked some on this issue, but I couldn't help thinking that God had already set into motion the strategy for renewing her mind. She was given, in that instant, a revelation of a loving God. The One who reveals things to people who know her not, and yet relay to her the very message she so desperately needs to hear. He also gave her a powerful story from the Bible to anchor His view of her from here on - revealing how Jesus deals with people who have shady pasts, but who have received His forgiveness. This was the gift of a story she could use to anchor herself into God's pure, unadulterated truth of forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. In the future, when she hears the story of the woman caught in adultery, she will be able to forever see Jesus welcoming her to a forgiven life, free to experience the fullness of all that God has for her.
Woman, where are your accusers?
John 8:1-11 - The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery (video clip)
...but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and 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 stone at 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”