07 April 2019 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Down and dirty
When you think of it God gets down and dirty into the earth on a few occasions. When God creates Adam, we are fashioned from the earth. God becomes an undertaker and buries Moses his servant in some unknown place on Mount Nebo. In the person of Jesus, God uses spittle and clay to make a-healing paste for a blind man. Today, Jesus stoops down and writes in the dust to defend a woman accused of adultery. Maybe there are other instances of God using the dirt? When you think a little deeper as we gather on the edge of Holy Week- When Adam is formed, we have life before sin. With Moses and the wandering, straying people we have life after sin- death. Finally we have Jesus bringing a new chance at life for the woman caught in adultery – an experience of Resurrection. So Life-Death-Resurrection is all there.
We can wonder aloud about the man involved- where was he? Was Jesus doodling down the names and sins of the would-be accusers in the dust? But it is more important to know that Jesus gives freedom and grace- not a cheap grace mind you- she is not to sin any more. But it is given. We haven’t really changed a lot all these centuries later. We’ve just replaced stoning with shaming. Less brutal but equally damaging.
Adultery properly thought about is a very wide thing.. Can any of us truly say that we’re not holding out, that we have given ourselves, completely and without reservation to another person and to God. You don’t have to be married for this one. We’ve all got people we love who aren’t our spouse. How loyal are we to them? In an era of multi-tasking, how much of yourself do we give them? From our time and our heart and mind. Being faithful means missing out in some respects- of all the things you could be doing- you choose this path, this person and for the Christian- this God.
Some have said we should rename this “from the woman caught in adultery” to be the story of “the men caught trying to throw stones.” But this is above gender. Sometimes it is people like the Prodigal Son of last week and today’s woman caught in adultery- people who have fallen the furthest who understood and appreciated most- the grace and mercy of God.