“The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” John 8:5 NLT
It is feasible to think that in our current time you may be asked the question, “What do you say?” It could be that you are asked for your opinion in a work meeting. It could be that you are asked what you think about a political position. It may be that someone wants to know what you think about something someone in your circle of friends has said or done. It could also be that someone wants to know what you believe or where you stand on a faith issue. Whatever it may be, there are certainly times in our life where we are very pointedly asked, “What do you say?”
There is one reality I have learned in my lifetime to be true – there is no shortage of opinions and people who are willing to share them with you. In a world where people are usually willing to tell you what they think, it is important to be able to know what you will say on a short list of crucial topics. What do you say about modern day slavery? Human trafficking? The treatment of minorities? The plight of the poor? World hunger? The persecution of Christians worldwide? There are so many issues facing the world today and someone just may want to ask you what you have to say about any one of them. It is the thoughtful person who has at least considered what they would say.
As we consider the notion of what we would say, let me add another wrinkle – what do you say as a Christ follower? It is not so important what we think as some random individual, rather it is crucial what we think as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It is not just about what we think or say as a person – it is what we think or say as a witness to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught what it means to follow after God’s own heart. What Jesus taught in word and deed was to say what God wanted him to say, to do what God wanted him to do, and to think what God wanted him to think. This is not to say that Jesus advocated for a mindless robotic regurgitation of material learned about God through Scripture. What Jesus lived was the living out of a relationship so intimate that it could be said that God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son, were one. (John 17)
This is what is happening in the Scripture passage in John 8. Jesus is asked, “What do you say?” At first, Jesus offers no reply. When pressed he tells them exactly what he has to say by holding a mirror up to those who bring accusation. Jesus says, “… let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” What Jesus had to say was important! It was a paradigm shift in terms of grace, forgiveness, love of neighbor, and the demonstration of God’s great love for all humanity. There is something here we should not miss though. Jesus is also saying to the accusers, “What do you say?” It is as if he is asking them what is more important – the woman’s sin or their own sin? Jesus seems to be telling them before you ask me what I say ask yourself what you are saying. Jesus turns their question upside down and back at them.
So when it comes to accusations and judging others – what do you say?
This Sunday we will talk more about this amazing story in the Gospel of John. The message will help us think about what we say as devoted followers of Jesus Christ. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!