There is a scene in the Gospel of John where Jesus’ people, the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, bring to Him a woman caught in adultery. But the secret is, in their eyes she wasn’t a woman, she was a test, a trap. Would Jesus join in their judgmental (in the most literal sense of the word) action of stoning her to death in accordance with the law or show mercy and demonstrate to the Scribes and the Pharisees that he wasn’t one of them?
But Jesus saw, not a litmus test of tribal loyalty, but a woman. He stooped down and started making marks in the dirt with a stick. Was he listing possible human sins? Was he just giving the religious mob time to reflect? Then he said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” As he continued to draw in the dirt, the mob broke up and drifted away.
The amazing thing to me about this story is that Jesus saw not only the woman as a valued human being but the hard-hearted Pharisees and Teachers of the Law as well. He gave them the opportunity to reflect on the truth that, without grace and mercy, the law condemns us all.
I think we desperately need this perspective today. I hear one tribe accusing Dr. Ford of lying and the other tribe accusing Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault when no one actually knows. Opinions are not formulated based on fact, but speculation rooted in tribal loyalty. This approach fails to recognize the humanity of either Ford or Kavanaugh. And we who believe our government representatives are up to their eyeballs in tribalism, like myself, need to be reminded that Jesus could see the humanity even of those judgmental religious leaders in his day.
I have little doubt that in today’s world, Jesus would not choose a side, he would see a person – even in those we poor followers manage to dehumanize.