So much written within these first eight verses of John 8, lay like buried treasure, just out of sight, just beyond my ability to touch … to hold between my fingers. Yet this passage holds me, fast … like a “treasure hunter” whose Geiger counter beeps frenetically, testifying to the presence of “something big” just below the surface.
Somehow it’s wrapped up in images … images that testify to the nature, the character, the mission of this God-Man. This Light … calmly seated in the midst of palpitating religious darkness. God’s way blazing boldly through the wasteland of clay’s staked out territory.
Isn’t it just like ‘the evil one?’ We are sitting a Jesus’ feet … we’re in the throne room, enthralled by the glory and splendor of God. He’s speaking directly to our hearts, and we’re feasting on His words of life. Then, mid-bite, in struts the would be usurper, flinging in front of our eyes an alternative fare unabashedly seasoned
with the one singular entrée most likely to draw our appetite from the banquet lavishly spread before us.
That’s how ‘the evil one’ works. Strutting in like a bandy rooster, self-assuredly, bondage in tow, thrusting forth a question – a proposition meant to stagger clay – and cower God. Causing us to leave the meal unfinished, the Divine fare undigested, and the clay’s soul malnourished.
How well ‘the evil one’ knows our clay … sees our Eve-ish heart. We may be walking Eden’s garden in the cool of the evening, communing with our Creator. But a few thoughts away awaits that tree, and the temptation of self’s disobedience, the temptation to taste and claim as mine that which belongs only to Almighty God.
While the crowd was daunted by ‘the evil one’s’ aspersions cloaked in religious righteousness, holiness didn’t flinch. He knew ‘this garden’ well … He’d set its boundaries at time’s first tick.
But holiness had just come from another garden. The garden where this Son of Man’s righteousness was birthed … where it found nourishment … where His righteousness soaked in the Light … where not my will, but Thine be done inhabited clay spilling forth His righteousness like the noonday sun.
And though the light of dawn had broken upon this day, in the temple courtyard darkness now tried to cast his own pall upon Light’s presence … attempted to block Light from breaking through the darkness of clay’s soul, from severing bondage’s chains, from offering freely eternal freedom.
The crowd collectively gasped, but the finger of God? The finger that wrote on stone tablets? That wrote on a palace wall? It calmly, quietly, wrote again on tainted soil … soil professing holiness, but soil knowing instead the darkness of religiosity, where ‘the evil one’s’ fare had turned freedom into bondage.
The finger of God wrote, then ‘lifted Himself up’ as the bronze serpent of the desert, offering healing from the venomous bite their clay had suffered. Some ‘looked up’ and experienced soul-healing.
Driven by compassion, driven by grace, God stooped again … His finger continued the Divine message.
As the crowd looked on, religiosity-tainted souls saw ‘a tree’ … and chose. As the last one departed, again the Son of May ‘lifted Himself up.’ This time He gazed down upon the one condemned, the one having been stood before Him. And He whose life was not taken, but freely given, offered not judgment but fully-purchased redemption.
Jesus’ heart shifted back to the crowd … to those all this while dining at holiness’ table. Little had they realized, when first they sat down, they would be journeying between two gardens, between two trees, between two kingdoms. The journey had taken them from Light, to darkness, and back again.
How Jesus’ words must have resonated when at that precise moment He opened His mouth and spoke life. “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
They had just witnessed the journey unfold … from beginning to end.
Having raised four children, I live now in Texas. Mostly my writing is a sojourn with God. I find myself ever planted in Eden, glorying in its abundant and rich communion with the Almighty. Or, I am looking back, with longing. And the sojourn continues.