2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 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.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
One of the great debates around this passage is “What was Jesus writing in the sand?”.
Some say He was writing the sins of the men (including the one the woman was found with) who were ready to condemn this woman…
Others say He was writing the names of the men, seeing them as individuals, rather than a mob to hide within…
Even others say that He was writing the name of the woman, treating her as a person, created and loved by God, giving her identity and personhood.
I personally like this last one.
One of the ministries Mel & I have been involved in for over 5 years is Project 417 (www.project417.com). Their three-pronged approach is to deal with the issues of human trafficking, First Nations issues, and the homeless of Toronto. When I first got involved with this organization, I really hadn’t thought about homelessness being an issue in Canada. I honestly didn’t “see” people living on the streets – they were just “human speed bumps” or part of the scenery. As I got more involved, I began to identify the work we were doing with these amazing people, as “restoring humanity”.
Think about those words for a second – “restoring humanity”.
This was and is the mission of Christ.
To restore a broken people into a right relationship with God – the way God had intended His relationship with His people to be from the beginning.
In some situations, it starts by offering a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.
For others, it starts by offering help that could be the key to the life change they need.
For others, it could be simply speaking to them, using their name in a conversation, that allows the seed to be planted for the process of restoring humanity to begin.
When we think of how Jesus treated this woman that was brought before Him, His desire was to restore her humanity – allow her to see that she is worthy, that she could be loved and treated with respect as a human, as a child of God.
When we show up at workcampNE each year, we are faced with the opportunity to restore the humanity in our residents – to show them respect with the way we work and treat their property, possessions and them as people, created in the image of God and with a purpose.
Perhaps your resident this year will be one that has been shoved aside or forgotten by their family & friends. Your actions and words towards them, in response to the love that God has already shown you, could be the first step in the journey that God has for them to experience a restoration of their humanity and their relationship with Him.
If that’s the case, how are you going to pray in preparation for this calling? One idea is to learn to listen to God – allowing you to see what His Word is saying to you and what He is doing around you. With this attitude and approach to life and prayer, we allow ourselves to be open to be used by God, as His instruments.
Dr. James Eitel is a certified Cultural Intelligence Facilitator and is the Lead Facilitator at E423 Consulting. He has served in multiple church youth ministries for over 15 years throughout Ontario in many different cultural contexts. He is a Doctor of Ministry in Youth & Family Ministry (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA). He has also served as part of the adjunct faculty in the youth ministry department at Tyndale University, teaching a number of different courses, including “Canadian Youth Culture”. He and His wife Melanie are great staff members of workcampNE, and have blessed us with their service in many roles, for many years.