September 07, 2020

Meekness in Action

John 8:1-11

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” . . . “Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

—  John 8:7, 11

At first this story appears to have three simple steps. The religious leaders try to trap Jesus as they publicly shame a woman caught in adultery. But instead of falling for their trap, he silences them, and they leave. And then he forgives the woman.

But, looking deeper, we can see there is a lot more going on. This is complex. We can even say that this story shows how meekness—that is, gentle, firm strength—can lead people to change their actions.

The religious leaders are playing power games. They are exercising spiritual abuse first by shaming the woman and then by trying to undermine the credibility of Jesus. Jesus, recognizing their horrific abuse of spiritual power, avoids their trap by ignoring them at first.

Then, as they keep badgering, he responds, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” It’s as if he is saying, “Your power abuse prevents you from receiving God’s grace. Confess your sin, surrender that godless power, and you can find life.”

Then he calls the woman to die to her sin as well, and to be invited into true life.

The meek, life-transforming Savior invites everyone to die and truly live! Who could have known that meekness could be so radically renewing?

Lord, open our eyes to reject spiritual abuse and shaming that pretends to be holy, so that your true life will shape and guide all we do. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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