What was Jesus’ P.O.V.? And how did he view the places, people and things around him? If you could see the world now the way Jesus saw it then, just what would it look like, how would the people appear, and what would you look like?
P.O.V. is a literary and theatrical term used to describe Point Of View. POV is simply the viewpoint, angle or spectrum through which someone observes settings, situations or people. In movies and television, stories are usually seen through the “lens” of one specific character at a time. In novel writing, the story is told through one main character’s POV at a time. POV is critical to viewing and understanding the story.
One thing is for sure: Jesus has a POV altogether different than ours. He does not see people the same way that we do; not at all. The Gospels narratives bear this out repeatedly, but no story does so any more than that of the Woman Taken in Adultery (or, The Woman Caught in the Act).
And Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he returned to the temple. All the people gathered around him, and he sat down and taught them. (John 8:1)
The conflict in the ministry of Jesus on this particular day occurred in a familiar place (“the temple”), amidst a familiar environment (“the people gathered around him”), and while engaged in a familiar practice (“he sat down and taught them”). Jesus was in his element, but the crowd was in for a surprise.
Three main characters show up in this story and, along with each one of them, no less than three POVs emerge: Jesus’, the Pharisee’s and that of the woman caught in the act. Considering each POV brings out some of the dimensions and dynamics of this important narrative. Three things were happening:
Jesus was teaching the people – While in the middle of the crowd, he was sitting, teaching, and doing what he loved and was called to do – teaching people God’s truth. He was engaging souls with the Word of God. Also,
The religious leaders were tossing another sinner into the ring – The legal experts and Pharisees suddenly burst onto the teaching scene with a harlot in hand. They were determined to turn Jesus’ classroom into a courtroom. And, at this moment
One soul found itself precariously caught between Judgment and Jesus –The woman caught in the act was seized by the self-proclaimed “saints’’ and assumed guilty as charged. She found herself under the glare of the Pharisees and then, suddenly within the altogether different view of Jesus himself.
The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” They said this to test him, because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. (8:3-6)
The view that the Pharisees had of the woman taken into adultery was unique to their eyes and closely connected to the condition of their hearts. They saw her as they had seen so many others like her.
The Pharisees saw only “a woman.” This phraseology would suggest that they viewed her as just another woman; of no account, no first name cited, no family name, no personal information. Just that: “a woman.” The Pharisee POV looked at people that way: cold, calculated, of no consequence.
The Pharisees saw someone “caught” red-handed. This self-proclaimed and self-righteous “police force” had apprehended yet another woman caught in the act of adultery. Indicting her was something they felt justified doing; some even considered such to be “God’s work.”
One of the most-pondered mysteries of the Bible was the moment that day when Jesus, in response to Pharisaical accusations, bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. The questions continued to be considered: What did he pen with his index finger into the soil that day? A list of the Pharisee’s sins? The names of their girlfriends? Or, was it something else? After all, just how did these leaders know where to find her?
They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”
She said, “No one, sir.”
Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.” (8:7-11)
One thing is for sure: Jesus was aware of dynamics and dimensions of this confrontation that flew right past everyone else present. He saw things no one else saw. He heard things that no one else heard. In the event of the Woman Taken in Adultery, …
Jesus saw a soul accused, but also saw the accusing souls. (“Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.”) When the leaders threw this woman into the middle of Jesus’ classroom, he seemed more alarmed by the audacity of their hypocrisies than by the depths of her depravities.
Jesus spoke directly to the soul accused and freed it from sin (“Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”). If the leaders had thrown her at the feet of Jesus the Judge, then he addressed her as had no other judge in history. Instead of, “What do you have to say for yourself?” Jesus inquired of something more along the lines of “What can your accusers say about you now?” It appears that he extended mercy without her even asking for it, or was it because he had already heard every cry of her humiliated heart? “Neither do I condemn you.”
Jesus challenged that same soul to certain life change (“Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”). On the heels of great grace extended came an unwavering truth demanded. While one sentence had said “no condemnation,” the next one said, “Clear expectation!” “Go … and sin no more.” While he loves the soul, and cleanses the soul; he also knows how to stretch and challenge that same soul to grow.
The Soul God Sees
God does not look at us nor observe us in the same way as we see each other. His view is altogether different. We know this from the Bible. 1 Samuel says that, “God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the LORD sees into the heart (16:7).” Surely Jesus saw more than a “woman taken in adultery” that day. He saw a soul, a soul in desperate need of grace and truth. He saw a soul that need to be loved, cleansed and challenged to the core. These actions in the words and ministry of Jesus reveal the importance of the soul in the eyes of God. A closer look reveals that:
God attaches an inestimable value to a soul. “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matt. 16:26)
God calls us to love him from the very depths of our souls. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’’ (Matt. 22:37)
The Word of God is uniquely able to penetrate our very souls. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:11-13)
Growth in Christ involves an increasing value for and recognition of the soul of man. “From now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view [in terms of natural standards of value]” (2 Cor. 5:16 AMP).
It has been said that there are only three things that are eternal: God, the Word of God and the providential souls of people. And, it is the Word that keeps coaxing our POV back to God, his worthiness and holiness. It is that same Word that keeps reminding us of the great and underestimated value of one human soul.