This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them… (John 8:6-7a)
Have you ever been falsely accused or had someone try to “trick” you into saying or doing something they could later use against you? If so, how did you respond? I will tell you how I respond –
- First, I get defensive – “That’s not what I meant”, “I didn’t do that”.
- Then, I get angry – “how dare they”, “what right do they have”.
- Sometimes, I even try to get even. “Who do they think they are?” “I’ll show them”.
Not Jesus. The KJV translation gives us an even greater sense of what was going on, instead of test, it uses the word “tempt”. This account is not an isolated incident, Jesus dealt with this kind of conflict throughout His ministry. (See Matthew 19:3, Luke 10:25, Luke 11:53, Luke 11:20). But, see what Jesus did? He ignored their accusations. He ignored their prodding. He ignored their words. I’ll be honest, until now, I’ve spent so much time with this verse trying to imagine what Jesus was writing that I’ve missed the whole point. But, now that I see it, I don’t know how I ever missed it – Jesus is giving us the model for handling conflict.
- First, Jesus stopped. (Jesus bent down)
- Then He reflected. (wrote with His finger on the ground)
- And then He responded. (He lifted Himself up and said to them)
Look what happens next (this is the best part) –
And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one (John 8:8-9a)
Which way do you think is better? Jesus’ way or my way? Silly question huh? My way causes anger and resentment, Jesus’ way results in conviction. My way gives way to more lies, Jesus’ way reveals truth. My way passes judgment, Jesus’ way delivers justice.
Its hard enough to own up to what we do wrong. Its nearly impossible to accept being falsely accused; our only hope is to ask Jesus to give us the strength to surrender it all to Him. In such times, we must remember that God is our Defender (Psalms 18:1), He is our very present help in times of trouble (Psalms 46:1), that He will fight for us (Exodus 14:14).
We can overcome if we will pause and pray, asking the Lord’s help to keep our thoughts from becoming words and our words from becoming actions until they have been filtered through the word of God.