But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” John 8:2-11
I have been thinking a lot about how true love requires sacrifice these days. And in learning about covenant, the covenants that God made always had sacrifice involved. It got me thinking about the very first time a real sacrifice was made. It was in Genesis.
You see, Adam and Eve were asked to make a small sacrifice, not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God wanted them to choose to love, so the small sacrifice was requested when all else in the garden was available to them. We all know how that turned out. But a further look into Genesis and we see God make a sacrifice for them. They had sinned. The knew they were naked and they clothed themselves in fig leaves.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” Genesis 3:7
God gave them the chance to repent. They didn’t. They began the blaming. Not much has changed in the world. God gave them consequences. But then God did something remarkable.
The LORD God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. Genesis 3:21
How would this have been done? God sacrificed an animal, one of His living creatures, to clothe Adam and Eve. This would have been the first time they saw something killed. The first covenant sacrifice. And it lets us know just how high God regards His human creatures. To sacrifice another of his creatures to clothe and begin to restore us. He really loves us. And in this gesture of love, we too learned to sacrifice for the God we love. It’s why we see animal sacrifice all throughout the bible. He clothes us to restore our righteousness.
Last night in my RCIA class we were actually teaching the Sacrament of Marriage and how it is a covenant and how our sexuality is a gift from God. The catechist was someone I have spoken to you about before. He is a former Protestant Pastor who is now a Deliverance Minister and Life Coach, Jansen Bagwell. Jansen shared with us all about covenant, about marriage and about human sexuality, which I have written about in previous posts. But last night he told us what the Lord shared with him about the adulterous woman.
Jansen said that theologians have been pondering for years what Jesus was writing in the dirt in the story of the adulterous woman. Jansen said, it didn’t matter what Jesus was writing, but why He was. The passage says she had been caught in adultery and was brought to the temple. Jansen asked us, “how do you think she was dressed being that she was caught in adultery?” It dawned on me what Jansen was saying. She either wasn’t dressed, or she was dressed scantily.
Jansen said the Lord impressed upon Him that He was writing in the ground so He would not look at her. This protected Jesus from sin, and protected her dignity. Then Jesus said to the elders, who He did stand up to and look at to address, that the one without sin should throw the first stone. They were all looking at naked or perhaps half naked woman. Imagine what that was doing to their thoughts at that moment. Jesus bends down and begins writing again. Jansen said in his prayer he pictured at that moment a man, a dad, who was married, who struggled with sexual sin was convicted by the Holy Spirit when Jesus stood up and looked at him. Jansen pictured this man covering her up. When Jesus looked up they were all gone. She had been clothed and her dignity restored, so Jesus could tell her to go and sin no more.
Jesus has looked into my soul this way. It changes you. It makes you better. It sets you on a path of righteousness. And when we fail, he stays. He doesn’t leave. Just like God did not leave Adam and Eve.
God is always trying to cloth us in righteousness when we stand naked in sin. He sent His Son as the ultimate sacrifice. He is a good and loving God. God can take all of our sin and all of our wounds and make us whole again. We just have to receive what he wants to give us, because it’s always better than what we want for ourselves.