Some of the most powerful teachings of Jesus are when the religious leaders are trying to catch Him in His words to bring an accusation against Him. He always seems to use those opportunities to demonstrate the kingdom of God that He is ushering in. This is one of my favorites.
In John 8 we see Jesus teaching in the temple and the Pharisees interrupt His reading to bring Him a woman caught in the act of adultery. Pay attention to how Jesus deals with this.
John 8:2-8 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 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. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
They were testing Jesus. They were squeezing Him, hoping for something to come out of Him that they could use against Him.
“Our heart is revealed through testing. When we get squeezed by life and circumstance, what is inside of us comes out.“
There is much to be learned from this passage, but there are two key phrases in this verse that we will focus on; “they said to test Him,” and “He bent down and wrote on the ground.” How are they related? What was Jesus doing when He bent down to write on the ground? What is the Lord saying to us through this encounter?
James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Being slow to speak is just one of the many valuable lessons to learn here. When Jesus got squeezed, what did He do? He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. Giving us a living example of how to deal with testing, and how to find the answers we need when our feet are being held to the fire.
Most teachers would be quick to get angry for bursting into the temple and interrupting the service. They would be quick to rebuke and correct such brash and irreverent actions, but that is not what Jesus did.
Instead of answering out of anger and His own understanding, Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground, focusing on what the Spirit had to say. I doubt that Jesus was writing anything significant on the ground. I believe He was simply checking what the Father had to say about it, how He should respond, and what He should do. I believe He was seeking wisdom and understanding.
They continued to pressure Him, we don’t know how long, but when He finally stood up He had the heart of the Father, and the Spirit gave Him the words to say. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone,” Then once more, He bent back down and wrote on the ground, waiting for further instruction asking the Father about the next step, waiting for those powerful words to have their full effect.
Proverbs 4:7-9 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
The principle thing in every test, every battle, and every encounter is getting wisdom and getting understanding. Wisdom and understanding are always available to us if we ask, seek, and wait. Many times we don’t think about waiting and speak before we seek. We try to answer or act from the shallow well of our limited understanding instead waiting , watching, and listening for direction from the Holy Spirit.
James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Testing will always come, and we are to count it all joy when it does. The closer we get to Him, the greater our testing will be. What comes forth from us during testing and trials indicates what we believe and who we trust. Testing is an essential part of the gospel. It causes us to grow spiritually and increase in our authority in the kingdom of God.
We know from scripture that in Jesus’s mind, He could do nothing of Himself. Since He is our model for Christian living, it would behoove us to adopt the same line of thinking. The life of Jesus is perfect theology. What we see Him doing, we should be practicing in our churches and in our personal lives. If we cannot see it in the life of Jesus, it doesn’t belong in ours.
John 5:30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
Luke 12:11-12 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Jesus modeled this passage in Luke 12 in His encounter with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus always modeled the word that He preached.
Many times throughout the gospels, Jesus separated Himself in between times of ministry to pray and fellowship with the Father. Without this component in our lives, we will not be mindful enough, or strong enough to keep our finger in the sand when difficult tests arise.
The world is watching all of us that profess to be Christians to see our true character. Our response to trials and testing should produce wisdom and grace, seasoned with salt and in step with God’s character.
If we are not intimate with the Father, we will not produce the fruit of who He is when it counts the most.
Lets keep our sword in our hand, and our finger in the sand, remembering that a test of character usually comes in the form of a “pop quiz.”
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