Jesus went unto the mount of olives.
After sneaking into a feast in Jerusalem, (He couldn’t just waltz in, they were trying to kill Him), preaching Himself as the ambassador of God as it were, Jesus retires to the Mount of Olives. It’s a single verse of only a few short words that separates that day from the next. What did Jesus do? Where did He spend the night? One commentator shared his thoughts:
“He went unto the mount of olives; whether to some friend’s house, or to some booth pitched there…
…whether he rested there, or, as some think, continued all night in prayer to God, we are not told. But he went out of Jerusalem, perhaps because he had no friend there that had either kindness or courage enough to give him a night’s lodging; while his persecutors had houses of their own to go to (ch. 7:53). He retired (as some think) because he would not expose himself to the peril of a popular tumult in the night. It is prudent to go out of the way of danger whenever we can do it without going out of the way of duty. In the day-time, when he had work to do in the temple, he willingly exposed himself, and was under special protection, (Isa. 49:2). But in the night, when he had not work to do, he withdrew into the country, and sheltered himself there.”
I love the statement, “It is prudent to go out of the way of danger whenever we can do it without going out of the way of duty”, because it’s so pertinent to my life and applicable to every life. When you encounter conflict, and you will, you can walk away, or you can face up to it. This isn’t restricted to fights and conflict; Jesus just needed to get away. It doesn’t matter what He did: if it was vital information, God could’ve easily preserved it in His Holy Word. The point is, Jesus, just as He later did in Gethsemane, went away from things, from people, to spend time with His Father.
I say that to say this: my 21st birthday is tomorrow, (Yay! Happy Birthday Me!) and I feel like I need a refocus, (I feel like that a lot). Every so often I’ll get charged, fired up for the gospel, but my mind is constantly striving and I need some time away: I need some time alone with my Father.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
First thing, notice who these people are. The Pharisees right? In the previous chapter, these men called Jesus a deceiver. However, they did it in private yesterday, today in public what do they call Him? Master (v4). It’s flattery, maybe outright mockery, but it’s interesting to note the double-headedness of these religious leaders. Their hypocrisy doesn’t end there. But they have a woman caught dead-to-rights in adultery. She has no defense, she was caught in the act.
Odd… knowing the penalty for this crime was death, despite the feast revelries and carrying on, this woman is careless enough to be caught in adultery. She will be stoned.
Briefly: where is the man? A woman can’t commit adultery by herself. Where is the man? It interesting how the responsibility for our actions is never a consideration. Somewhere in Jerusalem, during this time, there was a guy willing to let this woman take all the punishment for what they had both done.
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, [as though he heard them not].
Jesus, knowing they’re attempting to trap Him, and that they are tempting Him, trying to incite Him so that they might find fault in His words or actions, ignores them. Sometimes the best way to fight temptation is to ignore it. Especially when it comes from another person and not from Satan or the demons. If people try to get a rise out of you, aggravate or tempt you to evil, ignore them.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
But when they kept asking and pestering Him, anticipating His helplessness in their trap, He answered. Jesus words cut like a sword. He didn’t take issue with the law of Moses, nor did He say the woman was vindicated. Jesus essentially told them, “I know she is guilty, but are you fit to judge her?” The answer is obviously no.
“Whenever we find fault with others, we ought to reflect upon ourselves, and to be more severe against sin in ourselves than in others.”
It’s hard to judge someone else without judging ourselves when we see things from God’s perspective. I’m not saying we shouldn’t condemn sin simply because we all do it. But I am saying we could all be more forgiving and understanding towards others.
“We ought to be favourable, though not to the sins, yet to the persons of those that offend, and to restore them with a spirit of meekness, considering ourselves and our own corrupt nature. Aut sumus, aut fuimus, vel possumus esse quod hic est-We either are, or have been, or may be, what he is. Let this restrain us from throwing stones at our brethren, and proclaiming their faults.”
“Aut sumus, aut fuimus, vel possumus esse quod his est.”
No one is without some measure of blame. We are all guilty of breaking God’s law. Not one sin is less damnable than another. The sin of lying can condemn just as the sin of murder. We, all of us are sinners, contemptible in the sight of God, yet He loves us.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
The second two verses of this passage are a beautiful picture of salvation; how faith in Christ to forgive our sins can set us free from those sins. There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus: that is salvation and justification.
But the first verse, the one focused on the actions of the Pharisees following Jesus statement are what I’d like to focus on. Being convicted of their own conscience, went out… Conviction will never allow condemnation. When our hearts receive the consternation of Christ’s truth, we are convicted of the beam in our own eye so that we cannot condemn the mote in our brother’s or sister’s. We should be quick to forgive with the same measure of grace whereby God through Christ forgave us.
I’ve noticed far too much prejudice, insincerity, and unconcern in my own life. My ministry has taken quite a bit out of me and my in between time is not restful, is not Christ-centered, is not far enough away from the world. As Christ needed away time; to be with God; to be alone; to rest for future ministry. I cannot judge or condemn, my conscience forbids me as I look at my own hands which have been too quick to throw stones.
“These hands aren’t fit for throwing stones, they’re far too bloodstained.”
On the eve of my 21st birthday, a landmark age in society, I’m reprioritizing, revitalizing, and redeeming my years. I need to take time alone with God, to get away from it all. So, you may not hear from me for a while. It could be days, a week, but whenever I’ve experienced God as I seek Him during this time, then I will be back.
As always thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist