Saturday, December 21, 2019

Collateral Damage: John 8:7


There is a story in the book of John, where the Scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery. In asking Jesus what was to be done with her, they were hoping to trap Jesus into saying something contrary to the Law of Moses. Jesus, at first, refused to answer and, instead, stooped down and began to write on the ground. However, as they persisted in their demand for some response, Jesus stood up and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone...” (John 8:7) This is how this verse is typically remembered and quoted. However, in Greek it reads a bit different. Translating the Greek sentence structure more literally, this passage reads, “He who is without sin among you, the first at her to throw a stone.” (NASB Greek Interlinear). Jesus command to the one without sin was not that they should be the first to cast a stone, but that they should be the first to cast a stone “at her.”

Oftentimes, in the midst of our anger, judgment, and sin, we lose sight of the people who bear the weight of our sins and who are harmed by our unrighteousness. Peter Scazzero, in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, refers to this as “our shadow.” Our shadow represents the effect our lives have on others. Our attitude, judgments, and behaviors affect others in ways we often don’t see or understand, either for good or for evil. In this story, the scribes and Pharisees, in their rush to condemn Jesus, failed to see the collateral damage their judgmental spirit was causing on the people around them. Their hatred of Jesus blinded their eyes to “her.” The same is often true of us. In our self-righteousness, we fail to see those we are hurting; we fail to see “her.” Jesus wants us to open our eyes, to see our shadow, and to consider the influence and impact our lives, emotions, and behaviors are having on the people around us. If we can do this, then maybe we will become more careful in our own lives; maybe we will learn how to use our shadow for good rather than evil.

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