I have a fond story of my dad that I’ve never shared publicly, probably because it happened at one my weakest moments as a kid.
Growing up I was never the strongest, fastest, or best athlete on my street. There were five, yes five, boys on my block that grew up within months of each other. The birthdays started in April and rolled right on through till August in our neighborhood. One day we were out playing street hockey when a teenager decided to play with us. It wasn’t uncommon for the older brothers to come and play hockey with us, but while we were elementary school, the older kids took it a little easy on us since they were in middle and high school. This particular older boy however served more as the neighborhood bully than anything else, and decided he was going to come out and beat up on us younger kids.
After getting knocked down a couple of times, I got really hurt when he checked me into the side of the house where we were playing. I got really hurt and gingerly started to skate for home, which was only two houses down. As I was skating home my dad was getting home from work and saw that I was crying and holding my head. After finding out what happened from me he walked over to the boy and began to give him a lecture on his obvious difference in size. One thing you have to know about my dad is he wasn’t just larger than life in my eyes, he was actually 6′ 3,” 250+ in everyone else’s eyes as well!
I remember him yelling at this boy and at one point even picked up the hockey ball and through it into the net just inches from the teenager in question. At that moment I didn’t care that I broke an unwritten street rule and would potentially get beat up because my dad defended me. I didn’t care because I watched my father defend me against an outmatched and outsized opponent. I remember thinking, “that’s my dad.”
In John 8 we find one of the most famous stories of Jesus encountering two things:
- The righteousness of the Pharisees
The break this story down there’s a couple of things we need to know. First of all, the woman was literally caught in the act of adultery (v. 3). This makes for a very testy situation since there are direct consequences to this action. Here’s another thing that we need to be aware of; this woman was used to lure Jesus into a trap. They knew, and he knew that they were trying to catch him up. But here’s the first problem, where was the man? The law of Moses indicated that both the woman and the man were to be held accountable. So here’s the trap:
- Don’t Stone Her = Violate the Law of Moses
- Stone Her = Breaking Roman Law
So what does Jesus do? Of course, he writes in the sand! What every ordinary person would do…write in the sand. We have no record of what Jesus wrote, but here’s some of the speculations:
- The sin of the Pharisees
- The Ten Commandments
- Exodus 23 regarding lying
Think about ultimately how Jesus defended this woman. She was obviously caught in the midst of sin, but instead of beating her up more than she had already experienced, he defends her and exercises love and compassion. Here’s a key takeaway: Jesus loved her, but he didn’t approve of her sin. It’s important to know that love doesn’t equal approval. You can deeply love someone, but it doesn’t mean you approve of their sin. The reality for us is found in Jesus’ admonishment of the woman. He didn’t say, “Go and commit adultery no more.” He said, “go and sin no more.” Sin is sin no matter how big or little we deem it. Her sin that was made public is no more or less sinful than the sin you commit in private.
In this case, Jesus was the defender of the spiritually weak. He communicated to her that she was more important than what she did wrong.