Finding Hope In The Place Of Shame
What Defines You?
Can you imagine being publicly scorned? Can you feel the shame of ruthless eyes stripping you of your dignity and viciously crying out with self-righteous judgment against you, “Guilty!”
Have you experienced your parents belittling you? Have you trusted someone, even loved them and then been hurt by them? Have you ever been abandoned to another who would defile you? Do you long for a place to hide where you will be safe?
Then you will relate to this story.
Teaching in the Temple
Jesus sat in the court of the temple quietly teaching of His Father’s loving kindness.
There was a rising clamor of angry voices as a group of men appeared at the corner of the court, half pushing, half dragging a woman, her clothes in disarray, her hair falling disheveled around her face. As she pushed a strand aside and briefly gazed up, it revealed a tear streaked face and fear filled eyes.
Jesus stood as the scribes and Pharisees approached, then pushed the woman in front of Him.
“Do you see this woman? She was caught in the very act of adultery!”
A horrified gasp moved across the little group the Lord had been teaching. A question immediately arose in each mind but no one dared vocalize it. If that was true, then where was the man?
Glancing with compassion at the head bowed in shame, Jesus stooped and began to write with His finger in the dust.
“Didn’t you hear? We caught her in adultery.”
“Moses said she should be stoned.”
“Yes! Stone her!” clamored some of the crowd.
The priest sneered, “What do you say? You who claim to be a teacher in Israel.
Angered by the silence and apparent indifference of Jesus, the men who brought the woman whispered among themselves. Then the mocking began.
“We know you consort with sinners. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“Are you greater than Moses?”
“Do you resist the Law? Do you think you are above the Law? This woman is an adulteress. The Law demands she die!”
The angry voices grew louder and more insistent. “What do you say we should do to her?”
A chant began , “Stone her! Stone her!”
Silently Jesus stood and looked into the eyes of each man. With authority, His words sliced through the sudden silence, like a judge giving sentence at the end of a trial.
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
A gasp of astonishment rippled through the court.
Jesus stooped and again began to write in the dirt.
There was a soft thud as a large stone held by an elderly priest hit the ground. Quietly, he left the group of accusers. A hush spread over the temple area. Another rock hit the ground, followed by shuffling feet hurrying away.
After a few minutes, the woman began to softly weep.
Have cruel hands abused you? Torn your dignity into shreds? Have you been trampled on, humiliated? Your personhood assaulted?
Do you feel ashamed? Unworthy? Fearful? Guilty?
Have eyes looked at you without seeing you? Or worse, looked at you as if you were a commodity, something to be used and then tossed aside?
He knows and cares. Jesus knows your heart. He knows your sin but He also knows the truth of what happened to wound your heart and leave you frightened and struggling to survive. He does not condemn you.
He bids you come to Him. He said, “Learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.”
He does not despise you, criticize you, or mock you. Instead He offers forgiveness. In compassion, He demonstrates the Heavenly Father’s heart. The Father is slow to anger, of great patience, and demonstrates infinite mercy.
Did you know the Heavenly Father wants to forgive you? Wants to draw you close to His heart, and comfort you. Wants to honor you with His friendship.
Because the Father loves you, Jesus came to earth and suffered shame. Wicked men stripped Him, seeking to steal His dignity. They ruthlessly beat Him, trying to break His spirit.
The Bible says He suffered all of that and was made sin for us because He has a special love for you in your suffering. He understands your fear, for He faced fears – and conquered depths of fear and loneliness we cannot begin to understand.
It is time to let go of your shame, of your tattered rags of dignity, of your guilt and fear of being found out. Jesus already knows every detail. He has wept with you in the silence of the night.
Because of His deep love, He died so you might be cleansed and set free to walk in dignity. Through His death, the veil of shame covering you and dragging you to the ground can be removed. Freely, Jesus offers to cover you with His beautiful robe of righteousness.
Give Him your rags. Do not cling to them any longer. Let Him clothe you with His love. Look deeply into His eyes and receive His gift of compassion. Let Him restore your dignity and value as His beloved child – pure and undefiled.
Choose life and live! Let Him wash away your sin, your shame. Let Him heal the brokenness of your spirit and quiet your heart with His love.
Sin No More
Jesus rose, glancing around at the empty court. He turned to her with compassion. “Where are your accusers? Do none condemn you?”
Meeting His gaze for the first time, she said, “None, my Lord.”
“Neither do I condemn you. Go.”
Tears of release slipped down her cheeks. Could it be? Is it possible for one like me to be forgiven?
A gentle smile tugged at the corners of His mouth. “Sin no more.”
It was as if the woman had been clothed in a beautiful mantle. Her head bowed in wonder for no man had ever looked at her the way Jesus did; He saw her as a person of value, not a thing to be used.
Filled with deep gratitude, her shoulders straightened and she lifted her head, looking deeply into His eyes. “Thank you, my Lord.” Turning, she walked with stately dignity through the courtyard.
She walked with quiet joy as she took her first steps on a journey where she began a fresh life filled with the wonder of being protected from violence and the wonder of being forgiven from her sin.
When Jesus looks into a person’s eyes – and that person responds even though it means their sinful heart has been exposed – that person will find meaning and purpose for their life. They will never be the same again.
Have you ever looked deeply into the eyes of Jesus?