By DANNY MINTON
She found herself in trouble. Kidnapped from her home, she now faced death from her captors. Her voice remained paralyzed, tears began to well up in her eyes as her captors forcibly dragged her out of the house. Half clothed, she remained a prisoner to the men who dragged her down the street, eventually throwing her to the ground for what seemed a lifetime. At first, the captors numbered only a few, but now those around her threatening her life had grown. As she lay on the ground, she could not raise her head, her eyes glued to the feet of those around her. Where was the man she was with when she captured? Had they killed him? No matter, she was now alone as the tears became more noticeable. After a few moments of a mumbling crowd, a hush fell over them as she discovered one set of feet alone, not part of the group, but a man seated in front of her. In fear, she refused to raise her head, listening to the conversation that now took place.
Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say? At this moment, she realized she faced a trial, and the only option for her remained death. Tears began to fall; her heart began to beat faster, and it seemed to come out of her chest. Then the man closest to her bent down nearer to her and wrote something in the sand. She kept her head down, watching his finger move, catching a glimpse of a face for the first time. Momentarily, the face disappeared as the man stood up and told the crowd, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
Fear again crept into the woman’s body. She tensed up, awaiting the fate that she had feared, death. Would it come quickly? Would it be painful? She wept, tears falling into the sand as she awaited her fate. As the words “first stone” rang in her ears, she again caught a glimpse of the man as he once more stooped down and began to write something in the sand. She heard a quiet rumble through the crowd, a thump on the ground, another, and another as a stone as large as her hand, rolled up and stopping quietly in front of her.
She opened her eyes, seeing feet moving away, first one or two, then others, until only the man in front of her remained, writing in the sand. Now there remained only the two of them. What would happen now? In a way, she became relieved, but what about the one remaining? He stood up as she stayed on the ground, looking around, finding no one else but the two of them. Then Jesus spoke to her, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” She raised her head, facing the face of someone who she somehow felt cared about her, and quietly answered, “No, Lord.”
Jesus, with compassion, looked at the woman, maybe reaching out his hand to help her up and with a smile of care told her, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” She wrapped what clothes she had tightly around her and quickly headed home. She had received a second chance, a new beginning to turn her life around. Some believe she was one of the women that followed Jesus and his ministry, maybe wiping his feet or caring for him at his death. But that day, a day where she faced death, she received that second chance to change her life.
As we begin the New Year, many of us will have our list of New Year’s resolutions. Most will be the same ones people have promised for decades, lose weight, get out of debt, fix up the house, read the Bible, or do something vowed to accomplish for many years. The New Year, we feel, gives us a second chance at life, a time to make things right or change for the better.
Many resolutions fade as the year passes, some failing in the first days, others a few weeks or months down the line. We mean to do these things and want to accomplish them; however, something always seems to step in the way. Every so often, we succeed, but mostly find ourselves on January 1st of the next year listing the things we’ve detailed before, hoping we finally accomplish them.
For Christians, second chances happen more often than once a year. They can even occur several times a day. I say this from personal experience. I have usually found myself facing Jesus writing in the sand, seeking his forgiveness. It’s then that I hear the words, “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more!”
None of us live perfect lives. We all find ourselves facing times in our lives when we feel like the world is against us. We see times that we want to give up. We face depression or hurt feelings and struggle with the weight that burdens us and pushes us to the ground. But while we are on the ground, we’ll see a pair of feet and a doodling finger in the sand beside us if we open our eyes. When we look into the face of the one by our side, we will see love and compassion. He will always be there to hold our hand and lift us telling us, “Everything is going to be okay, go and try again, this time knowing I’m with you.” He gives us a second chance as often as we need it.
New Year’s is a great time to start over, but remember, with Jesus, we have a chance to start over every day. Every day we should open our eyes and proclaim, “I will give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation. A stone which the builders rejected has become the [i]chief cornerstone. This came about from the Lord; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; Let’s rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:21-24 (NASB)
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ