But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (John 8:6-8).

The occasion was quite scandalous.  A woman “caught in the very act” was drug by her accusers to face the consequences for her sin.  She was treated as an issue, and yet for most of us something deep within the human heart says that people should never be treated as an issue. What does the posture of Jesus signal about our ability to reach the broken? At the conclusion of a recent group bible study on this text, I asked group members to share one takeaway from the story.  One observed, “It is the point where Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground.”  She continued, “As a teacher in training, I’ve been studying how to discipline children appropriately.  One of the things you are encouraged to do in dealing with conflict is make yourself small and get down on the level of a child.”  She said, “In conflict, we usually try to make ourselves BIG – we stand taller, raise our voices, get louder.  But Jesus diffused the situation by making himself small.” Not only did Jesus teach humility, he demonstrated it through his body language.  When he stooped to write on the ground, he gave pause to a tense moment.  He gave the emotionally charged crowd time to consider their actions.  As a result, they dropped their stones from the oldest to the youngest. Jesus had enough confidence, even in sordid human nature, to believe if given the choice, those in the crowd would make the right decision. Jesus gave them the pause to consider their actions before doing the inexcusable.  It’s amazing how completely, Jesus was filled with truth and grace, even for these accusers. I love how Jesus deescalated the conflict with the pause, the stoop.  In so doing, he became an advocate for the broken woman.  Based on Jesus’s willingness to stoop, we can consider three significant response to the broken.
  1. “You are not alone.”
When someone is caught up in sin, the emotion that is most commonly felt is shame.  Shame is a powerfully debilitating emotion.  There is an agony all its own connected with shame. It’s far worse than guilt.  Guilt is a private thing.  You keep guilt to yourself, you swallow it like you do your pride though it eats you up inside.  You say nothing and go on. With shame, you can’t go on.  Sometimes it comes from a family member or those you trusted who won’t let you live it down.  It comes from accusers who says, “Remember what you did?” and constantly try to tether you to your broken past. It comes to the child struggling with an identity crisis who prays intensely, “Please don’t let me be like this.” Shame is a powerful emotion.  It’s expressed in the words of a young adult who said, ““I’m 31 years old and divorced, though I fought divorce bitterly.  I feel as if I’m going to have to sit out the rest of my life in the penalty box.” The first thing we need to say to the broken is, “You are not alone!”