Play a game of Jenga (wooden blocks). Look out for that brief feeling of embarrassment when you are the person who was the one who caused the tower to fall over.
We will have all experienced embarrassing moments in our lives. Some of these will have been funny and some not. Some will have needed some forgiveness from others and possibly some where we have needed to forgive ourselves.
Read John 8:1-11
This is one of the most incredible stories in the New Testament and it starts from a point of indescribable embarrassment. A woman ‘caught in the very act of adultery’ is brought before Jesus. In a time, a place and a community run very much as a Theocracy with morality and law-keeping as fundamental tenets of the day, this was serious stuff. The experts in the law
are baying for blood. You can imagine the ridicule and the taunting that is levelled at this woman as she is brought before a crowd and ‘all her dirty washing’ is made public. The woman is caught in a compromising situation and there are serious consequences, sin is always a serious matter and sometimes in the light of our limited understanding of the grace of God we may minimise the outcome and effects of our sin. (The fact that there is no mention of the man in this situation confirms the brokenness of our values, our outlook and our world).
In the midst of all this chaos Jesus kneels to the floor and starts writing in the dust. How bizarre! We will never know what he wrote or fully understand what he was doing but there are two things that I think happened. The first was that he drew the attention of the crowd upon himself. You can easily imagine people craning their necks to see what he was writing and whispering amongst themselves, ‘what’s he up to now?’ In doing so he deflects attention away from the woman. Secondly, he looks into her eyes. He sees the embarrassment, the shame, the remorse and perhaps the regrets that haunted her. And as he does so he smiles, he smiles at her with the smile that he reserves for those who are hurting, those who have reached the end of their tether, and those who have nowhere else
to turn. It is a smile of unsurpassed love.
As the shouting persists he stands and calls out words that have echoed throughout the years; words that we can probably all recite but that somehow we may have at times had difficulty in obeying – ‘let whoever
is without sin cast the first stone’. One by one people leave, and Jesus and the woman are left alone. He says something that is remarkable. ‘Neither do I condemn you – go, sin no more.’ In much of our thinking we might have expected Jesus to say ‘are you sorry for your sins?’ or perhaps ‘Do you repent of your actions?’ But before the woman had asked for forgiveness,
or pleaded for mercy Jesus showed compassion. He demonstrated unsurpassed love.
Read Romans 5:8
We do not have to plead with God for his forgiveness, he delights when we recognise our sins and turn away from them (repent) with the aim of sinning no more. It is like a parent recognising in their child’s eyes that
they are sorry for something that they have said or done, the look says more than words. Some may have felt she got away lightly and did not pay the price for her sin, but maybe that is the point, none of us do, none of us can –
‘There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, he only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.’
We all have a history, we all have ‘dirty washing’ that we would rather was hidden away, times we have fallen short of God’s standard. So hear Christ’s word, the one who created you…‘neither do I condemn you – go sin no more’.
There are times when we not only need to consider forgiving others but also forgiving ourselves. Take some quiet moments to thank God for his forgiveness and allow that forgiveness to flow over you so that you can
forgive yourself for the embarrassing painful times in your life. Accepting the forgiveness of Christ allows you to forgive yourself and then forgive others.
It happens. Ask his Spirit to permeate over those occasions and for healing peace of mind to come to all those involved.
Using the words of the song ‘Mighty to Save’ by Hillsong United
Everyone needs compassion, a love that’s never failing, let mercy fall on me. Everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a Saviour, the hope of nations.
Saviour, he can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, he is mighty to save. Forever Author of Salvation, he rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave. So take me as you find me, all my fears and failures, fill my life again. I give my life to follow, everything I believe in,
now I surrender. Amen