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I Do Not Condemn You Either (John 8:1-12)

I Do Not Condemn You Either (John 8:1-12)

Wherever we go or stand, everything and everyone demands a judgment of us—good or bad, for or against, yes or no. We even ask it of children: What do you think? From childhood on we have to have an opinion on everything.

Our judgments make it hard for us to observe with an open mind, let alone to find the truth. The harder we become in our judgments, the more we lose sight of reality. Hard judgments eventually become prejudices. And prejudices become unbending points of view. Whoever once takes such a standpoint, in the end he can’t make another step; he keeps himself imprisoned in a world of his own laws. In a world where differences are becoming ever greater, we tend to fall back on the Old-Testament judgment of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Only when we combat our superficial sympathies and antipathies do we begin to see the other—not the way we think he ought to be, but as he really is. Then only does the other feel seen and recognized: he has the right to be.

The story of the woman who committed adultery in John 8 speaks volumes about our deeply rooted inclination to judge and condemn. True, a thin layer of civilization keeps us from actually stoning such a person, but with our judgment on the guilt of others we stone them no less effectively.
And Christ? He was the only one who did things differently. He went to places on the earth where not only the shadow of guilt prevailed, but also the darkness of condemnation. It just is the way it is—sinners are stoned, literally or figuratively. He alone could say: “Whoever among you is free of sin, let him throw the first stone at her.”

He alone, the only one who is without sin, has the Old-Testament right to stone her—and He does not do it. Instead, He takes what is unbearable in our sin in His hand and writes it with his finger into the earth. That is another expression of the classic words: “See, the Lamb of God who takes the sin of the world upon himself.”

And when we want to find His light, the light of the world, there is no other way than to follow Him through the darkness of guilt. Without this darkness we are not able to recognize His light. And without His light we are not able to overcome our darkness.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, March 21, 2021

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