There is a myth in American culture that little girls dream of a prince coming to rescue her. If that myth is true, what does it say of the woman for whom no charming prince comes? That she is unlovable? That she deserves scorn and abuse? Such a woman, Rubel Shelly says in his new book, I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian… And I Liked Him Better Then can be found in John 7:53-8:11, and after all her accusers walked away, there stood Jesus. With these words: Neither do I condemn you. Rubel says it’s probably not original to the Bible, and I agree with him. But it’s a story about Jesus worthy of our consideration.
Rubel says he meets folks like this woman every day, folks who have become cynical by the way they’ve been treated, sometimes by the church.
What this text says is that whatever you have done can be forgiven. The real issue is not their past sin but the future with God. But many in the church tell a different story. They tell folks that they have to clean up first; or that even if they do clean up they’ll still be second class.
Some are far more afraid of church folk than bar folk. Church folks throw stones of gossip, and stones of rejection and stones of withdrawal, and stones of judgment. Those stones are of no use to Jesus. The stones were dropped and there was Jesus, “Neither do I condemn you.”
But Jesus, not church folk, is the one who talks truth, and he said “Neither do I condemn you.” The stone throwers walked away. Jesus offered grace and grace turned the woman from a sinner to a saint, from rejected to welcomed. The stone throwers shower the woman with a world that does not love, but Jesus is the one who loves.
The way to convince folks of God’s love is to tell the Story of God’s love for us. For those caught red-handed in sin the solution is to tell the truth and to turn to Jesus for mercy. He’s standing there, without stones in his hands. He bore the stones. They’re in a pile behind him.