There may not be a worst-case scenario to “broken”… than busted. As in caught red-handed. Completely and undeniably guilty. No debate. No recourse. Just busted.
It is in that moment when your actions have caused the course of your life to take an abrupt change of direction – as you are filled with dread… and as you wait for the gavel to fall. You are surely guilty… and you will be met with swift judgment.
Whatever identity you were wearing up to this point is now replaced by the garment of unbearable shame. The only thing worse than the shame is knowing that you cannot go back and undo what you have done. If only you could… if only…
Case in point… John relates the fascinating account of the woman caught in the act of adultery. In Jesus’ day, this is one of the worst things that a woman could do. In a male-dominated society, there was no sympathy (or mercy) for a woman who cheated on her husband. And she was caught in the very act!
The Law was pretty clear on such matters… death by stoning was allowed (if not required) for her offense. Imagine her fear. She knew she was guilty. She knew what was in store for her. She knew there was no way out.
But for some odd reason, she found herself dragged in front of that New Teacher everyone had been talking about. She heard every word as they told the Teacher about her guilt and what the Law required. Yet, strangely, they wanted to hear what He had to say about these things.
She watched through tear-filled eyes as He said not a word, but only knelt to the ground and started writing in the dust. She could not see what He wrote, but her accusers did. They continued to press the issue until finally, the Teacher stood up and simply said: “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7) And once more, he bent down and wrote on the ground.
She was overwhelmed with that sense of terrible anticipation when you are expecting the worst. She closed her eyes… she resigned herself that this would be her last day. The silence was only broken by her sobs.
But time passed… the stones never came. She opened her eyes. The Teacher was the only one who remained. She would never forget the next few moments for the rest of her life…
Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11)
For all those who think that God is just all about the rules, and is always angry at us because of our sins, and is eager to pronounce judgment on our lives… Jesus came to give us another thought.
God takes no pleasure in judging the wicked, the sinful… or the guilty. It is not His desire to condemn… even those who rightly deserve His wrath. It is always His desire to redeem, to restore, to revive, to repair what is broken in us. It is His desire to love us into His arms. That’s what Jesus came to tell us. That’s what Jesus came to show us.
The woman of our story began her day with an act of terrible sin – but when Jesus entered her story, her day was completely changed… and will remain forever as a testimony of God’s compassionate love!
The “woman caught in adultery” learned, and gave us an eternal reminder, that even the busted and the guilty are not beyond the reach of His love.