Once there were some people who wanted to stone a woman for adultery but Jesus came to her rescue. In this story Jesus was revealing a much deeper reality about God than his audience had understanding for. His audience was trying to trap Jesus with their interpretation of Scripture in order to prove Jesus was not grounded in the “truth” that they understood and so they wanted to see both these sinners (Jesus & the woman) judged in accordance with their knowledge of the law.
As they questioned Jesus, Jesus knelt down and began to write on the ground. Sometimes kneeling to the ground exposes the writing on the wall others have come to ignore. While writing in the sand Jesus asks for anyone without sin to throw the first stone.
With this statement Jesus was inviting their awareness of reality to come to a different level, but that didn’t mean they would fully accept the invite. At Jesus’ invitation the stones began to drop from their hands as they slowly walked away from their misguided judgments. Jesus’ bending down to write on the ground was revealing the stunning truth…
We are all on the same ground before God.
How can this be? Why do sinners get to be as close to God as saints?
A man named Jacob wrestled with this until his eyes were finally opened and he found himself saying, “God is here and I didn’t even know it.” This happened after he had laid on the ground with a rock for a pillow. It is only when we are grounded on Solid Rock that we become stable enough to come to our senses isn’t it? Jacob came to his senses and realized God was everywhere and that God was for all people because:
We are all on the same ground before God. It is written in the earth.
Another very important detail in the Jesus story is that after he invited people to stone the woman the older people were the first to leave. Basically the older people realized they were being sent to their room. They were being grounded by Jesus.
The older people deserve some credit here because some began to understand that Jesus’ lesson was a reminder that the older you get, the more you understand that you are not perfect. The older you get the more you are invited to understand that the world is a complex, messy and beautiful place. The older you get the more life experience you can have to not be so quick to judge.
Besides, the older you get your body comes one step closer to being literally buried “in the ground” as your shell returns to the sands of the earth.
But of course we all know that one (or 5,000th) older person who knows everything and can’t learn anything new. Sometimes this reminds me of my 4 year old who also claims to know everything. This is not what Jesus meant when he asked us to become like a child. My 4 year old still loves to learn, while some 60 year olds have stopped learning and asking questions.
And this is the great danger of getting older.
If you don’t stay childlike you can lose your grip on Reality, which you never actually grasp in the first place. You can come to think you are better than someone else. You can think you can handle the Truth without realizing it’s the Truth that always handles you.
Only the Truth can ground you.
If you get older and choose to stop learning because you think you know all there is to know, you position yourself to stop being compassionate, to stop understanding and your heart becomes hard. This happens without you even knowing because you stopped knowing when you stopped learning. If this happens you position yourself to judge others based on certain ancient truths or current cultural conditionings, instead of the Reality that people are human beings in a complex world and that people are forever loved unconditionally by God.
If you get older and stop learning you start to become blind, while being an expert in all the wrong ways of seeing, which is why Jesus is so excited when people “have eyes to see” or are “born again” or they “repent” to see Reality through the lens of God’s unconditional love. He gets excited when we come to our senses and realize we will be ever learning that God is better and more loving than we can imagine.
Jesus is teaching us that to age well we must stay low to the ground. Those who stay low will go high in God’s ways because they remain servant-hearted like God. This why Jesus gives the example of washing peoples feet.
We wash feet because feet are connected to the ground where we ALL stand before God’s all embracing love. How beautiful are the feet that bring this good news.
A man named Paul who is famous for writing many Scriptures went through the continual process of learning and unlearning. Before he got knocked to the ground he struggled with pride, while persecuting people God loved in the name of God. He came to learn the value of being young at heart, while being a continual learner. Paul told one of his younger disciples to not let anyone look down on him because he was young but for to set an example for people in speech, conduct and love.
Paul was learning to age well.
Paul also knew that some might still stone you and leave you to die as he and Jesus expereinced. But he also knew that many would leave their stones (judgements) and walk away in freedom because they would learn from the Truth. They would learn that:
We are ALL on the same ground before God.
So the older we get we are invited to keep learning and unlearning, while the main goal is learning how to love unconditionally like God. It’s the only thing that matters.
Jesus wrote in the sand because he wanted US to know that sinners and saints stand on the same ground before God’s unconditional Love. The dualistic mind can never understand this and will create categories that justify the stoning of others, even in the name of God. But you can be free from these judgments because like Jesus says,
“I didn’t come to judge the world but to set it free.”
Drop the stones because you are never too old to play in the sand.