The real target

(John 8 continued.) So the religious leaders hurled a dart at Jesus: “Now what do you say?” The downfall of Jesus was the main target of the religious leaders, and if this woman got caught in the fray, well so be it…

Their trap for Jesus was probably this: if Jesus answered that the woman should be let go, it would seem he did not have a high regard for the law of Moses. What kind of rabbi was he? Yet, if Jesus said that the law of Moses should be carried out with a stoning, he probably would run the risk of alienating the general public. They were counting on Jesus to get into trouble either way.

What does Jesus do with their trap? I relish the way Jesus responds. He said nothing. He was silent. “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” He was not silent in order to keep himself out of trouble (a tactic I sometimes find myself using). His refusal to speak was not just to deflect the darts hurled at him. No, he used his silence to refuse to be limited by the choices given and judgments already made. He was silent because he saw the situation, not according to the distortions that were presented, but according to the truth of who the people were standing before him. He let the silence begin it’s good work. How?

When someone is silent, we get uncomfortable, don’t we? We feel our control slipping away. (I know. At one time in my child’s adolescent life, that child was a master of controlling things through silence.) Silence is good at throwing our quick assumptions off balance. In silence we have to listen to our own thoughts, to re-evaluate what’s going on apart from the crowd around us. And maybe, just maybe silence can give an opportunity for honesty and truth to emerge, that is, if they aren’t buried too deep.

I think that’s what Jesus was hoping because he saw a whole other side to what was going on in front of him. He saw in the woman the possibility that the religious leaders could not see because they were too busy using her as a pawn to get Jesus. He also saw in the religious leaders a zeal for the goodness of Moses’ law that might be turned to good benefit. So he let the silence go to work on all of them.

When the light of the world (that’s who Jesus would say he was after this incident)determined that the silence had done its work, he stood up and shone the light on where it needed to be. Let anyone among you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Question: Do we have enough prayerful silence in our lives to let Jesus’ light help us see. See what? See beyond our assumptions of people to the hard truths of our own sin. See the good possibilities for new life in others we have judged unworthy. To see how we use the mistakes of others to make ourselves look good in comparison.