"Get up, you harlot."
"What kind of woman do you think you are?"
Priests slammed open the bedroom door, threw back the window curtains, and pulled off the covers. Before she felt the warmth of the morning sun, she felt the heat of their scorn.
"Shame on you."
She scarcely had time to cover her body before they marched her through the narrow streets. Dogs yelped. Roosters ran. Women leaned out their windows. Mothers snatched children off the path.
Merchants peered out the doors of their shops. Jerusalem became a jury and rendered its verdict with glares and crossed arms.
And as if the bedroom raid and parade of shame were inadequate, the men thrust her into the middle of a morning Bible class.
Early the next morning he [Jesus] was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd."Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?" (John 8:2-5 NLT)
Stunned students stood on one side of her. Pious plaintiffs on the other. They had their questions and convictions; she had her dangling negligee and smeared lipstick. "This woman was caught in the very act of adultery," her accusers crowed. Caught in the very act. In the moment. In the arms. In the passion.
Caught in the very act by the Jerusalem Council on Decency and Conduct. "The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?"
The woman had no exit. Deny the accusation? She had been caught. Plead for mercy? From whom? From God? His spokesmen were squeezing stones and snarling their lips. No one would speak for her.
But someone would stoop for her.
Jesus "stooped down and wrote in the dust" (John 8:6 NLT). We would expect him to stand up, step forward, or even ascend a stair and speak. But instead he leaned over. He descended lower than anyone else — beneath the priests, the people, even beneath the woman. The accusers looked down on her. To see Jesus, they had to look down even farther.
He's prone to stoop. He stooped to wash feet, to embrace children. Stooped to pull Peter out of the sea, to pray in the garden. He stooped before the Roman whipping post. Stooped to carry the cross. Grace is a God who stoops. Here he stooped to write in the sand.
The posse grew impatient with the silent, stooping Jesus. "They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up" (John 8:7 NLT).
He stood, not to preach, for his words would be few. Not for long, for he would soon stoop again. Not to instruct his followers; he didn't address them. He stood on behalf of the woman. He placed himself between her and the lynch mob and said: "'All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!' Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust"
"'All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!' Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust"
Name-callers shut their mouths. Rocks fell to the ground.
"When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman" (John 8:9 NLT).
Jesus wasn't finished. He stood one final time and asked the woman, "Where are your accusers?" (John 8:10 NLT).
My, my, my. What a question — not just for her but for us.
Voices of condemnation awaken us as well.
"You aren't good enough."
"You failed — again."
The voices in our world.
And the voices in our heads! Who is this morality patrolman who issues a citation at every stumble? Who reminds us of every mistake? Does he ever shut up?
No. Because Satan never shuts up. The apostle John called him the Accuser.
Day after day, hour after hour. Relentless, tireless. The Accuser makes a career out of accusing. Unlike the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Satan's condemnation brings no repentance or resolve, just regret. He has one aim: "to steal, and kill, and destroy" (John 10:10 NLT). Steal your peace, kill your dreams, and destroy your future.
Condemnation — the preferred commodity of Satan. He will repeat the adulterous woman scenario as often as you permit him to do so, marching you through the city streets and dragging your name through the mud.
But he will not have the last word. Jesus has acted on your behalf.
He stooped. Low enough to sleep in a manger, work in a carpentry shop, sleep in a fishing boat. Low enough to be spat upon, slapped, nailed, and speared. Low. Low enough to be buried.
And then he stood. Up from the slab of death. Upright in Joseph's tomb and right in Satan's face. Tall. High. He stood up for the woman and silenced her accusers, and he does the same for you. He stands up.
He "is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us" (Romans 8:34 MSG). Let this sink in for a moment. In the presence of God, in defiance of Satan, Jesus Christ rises to your defense.
When God looks at you, he sees Jesus first. In the Chinese language the word for righteousness is a combination of two characters, the figure of a lamb and a person. The lamb is on top, covering the person. Whenever God looks down at you, this is what he sees: the perfect Lamb of God covering you. It boils down to this choice: Do you trust your Advocate or your Accuser?
Excerpted from "GRACE: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine" by Max Lucado. ©2012 Max Lucado. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson, Inc. You can get the book, here: http://hlt.me/Ns0jiS.