This is the first guest post on my blog. I have written “Her” and “Him” – see the 2 posts below – different perspectives on the story from John 8 of the woman taken in the act of adultery. Here is another perspective on it, written by my friend and pastor, Martin Hannington.
Today our plan came to completion.
We at last found a way to get this young Rabbi, a real trouble maker, and to show to all that he was not one who held to the words of God as we did. We knew that if we could get him to deny the words of the law we would be able to denounce him as an impostor, a fraud, a heretic, and worthy of punishment, even death.
Everyone knew about the girl, she was the talk of the community. She thought her secrets were hidden but we knew what she was up to and the marriage she had ruined. So a few of us watched her and brazenly we snatched her from the house in the early hours, in the very act – she was a shameless harlot.
We suddenly felt very big – a harlot and a heretic at our mercy – we were about to kill two birds with one stone.
There were many of us who longed for this moment, who wanted to see the end of this rabbi who twisted the truth to make it sound so different to what we had grown up with, who had such a large following, who loved his stories and miracles of the devil. He was deceiving many into seeing God in a wrong way, a God who did not punish wrong.
Ha, in a few hours he will see how God punishes wrong, and by those who really love Him.
The girl was too tired to offer resistance, she had been humiliated and on the receiving end of our anger for some time. We could have stoned her any time but that would ruin our plan and our scheme to test him and humiliate him before so many. And in the temple; yes, our plan was for it to be in the Temple; and where better to shame him, ruin him? Where better to face him with the law of Moses, the commands of God?
In the middle of one of his stories, his nonsense of what God is really like, we pushed her before him, told him of our findings and asked him for his judgements on the harlot who ruined a family and a man’s marriage. We showed him our rocks and God’s word and in the moment we knew we had him – he was stunned to silence, incapable of speech. He stooped to the ground helpless and looked defeated – how I loved that moment.
But that moment was soon to change just as a breeze suddenly becomes a storm.
The stooped frame seemed to draw in the sand for ages; for a moment it looked like he didn’t even know we were there. The silence seemed to last forever, and then he stood and spoke.
There was no anger in his words like ours. No hatred, no rushing to her defence, or thought of himself. It was as if he was as concerned for us as he was for her. As though he knew the outcome of our actions could do as much harm to us as it might to her. He looked at us and quietly said, “ If you are free of sin, go ahead throw the first stone.”
The old men who really disliked him started to move first. I could see they were disappointed but they knew they had been out-thought, they had no argument, they would go and wait for another day, another chance to get him and fulfil their plan. But as I stood longer than the rest, suddenly it all started to make sense; his words were showing us the face of God we have never seen.
Suddenly all the words I had listened to from him as I collected evidence of his corruption and heresy, shouted a new message to me. I saw what others saw and suddenly realised God was very different to what I had imagined and been taught.
His words, “The measure with which you judge will be measured back to you” came back to me, and I knew there was more to him than I had been prepared to see.
Suddenly I was aware of my own ugliness in the face of compassion, of my own judgements, the lack of love and care, of my desire to punish not heal, and the world I was creating all in the name of God who I loved.
I don’t know if I was the last to walk away but I know I walked away different – the face of God now looked very different to me and from today I knew my friends would have to be different, and I rejected by them.