Some days I'm grateful for masks. Especially on those no-make-up, tired-eye, or swollen-tear-faced kind of days. Some days the mask I wear isn't to cover bare skin, under-eye bags, and signs of age. This mask I put on to cover who I am. To cover my past. My flaws. My hurt. My brokenness. My fallenness.
I have fallen more times than I care to admit. Fallen into a "little" sin that seemed to creep in without me realizing. Fallen quietly without anyone noticing but me.
But other falls? They have been not so tiny. They have been not so private. And they have been not so quiet.
We all fall and often when we do, the mask we have been hiding behind is removed. Whether our "fall" is quiet or deafening, gradual or rapid, private or public, the exposing of it can leave us feeling raw, vulnerable, and ashamed. Sometimes, even hopeless.
I can only imagine how the adulteress felt in John 8. She was caught in her sin of adultery and brought by the Pharisees to the temple where Jesus was teaching. She was brought to a public place. Brought into the crowd, possibly uncovered. Exposed. Humiliated. Shamed. Her sin was proclaimed in front of neighbors and peers. And then placed in front of, perhaps even thrown at, the feet of Jesus.
Our own sin can place us there as well. When the mask is ripped off, our sin is revealed. We can no longer run from it, and we often find ourselves at the feet of Jesus.
In that place where the adulteress could not run from, the leaders asked Jesus for a punishment. A request we perhaps ask of Him in this place too. The Mosaic Law stated she should be stoned for her adultery. I imagine her breathing was labored as she waited with trepidation for the death sentence she anticipated. A feeling many of us can relate to as we feel our own mistakes are beyond repair.
But such punitive words did not come from Jesus. Instead, He bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground twice and said this: “‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’” (John 8:7-8). Not one of them was sinless. Each one left without casting a stone.
After they had all gone, the woman, left alone with Jesus, was forgiven. When we are left alone with Jesus, whether the world has cast stones at us or not (or whether we have cast them at ourselves), with just our repentant, exposed hearts, we are forgiven too.
I have been at the feet of Jesus. Broken. Ashamed. Exposed. I have been at the feet of Jesus waiting for punishment, and He has lifted me up off my knees with His love and redemption. He will do this for you too.
I don't know what Jesus wrote on the ground. The passage does not tell us. Whatever it was He wrote, it was eventually erased. Erased by Jesus Himself, erased by the wind, erased by the trampling of feet, or by time.
But these words? Hear them today: Grace. Forgiven. Loved. Redeemed.
These words. When He writes them on our hearts as we seek forgiveness from Him, they are not written in dust or dirt, but with the redemptive power of the cross! And that cannot be erased!
Whatever it is you have been afraid to expose, whatever mask you are afraid to remove, whatever you might think is unredeemable, lay it at the feet of Jesus. Place it at the cross. For Jesus didn't ask the adulteress why she did what she did. He didn't ask what else she had done. He didn't ask what she could have done to prevent the sin. He simply said,
“Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11b).
I hope the woman was able to leave that sin there in the very spot it was exposed. I hope she stepped out into a new life that reflected a redemptive light and a changed heart.
Why? Because it is my hope for each of us that we accept the beautiful, free gift that cost Jesus so much. A hope that we accept the forgiveness that He offers. That we embrace a new heart and a new start, stepping into a life that seeks to live righteously, casting off the past to be deeply rooted in Christ.
If you haven't already, then make today the day. The day you take off the mask. Ask for forgiveness. Accept the gift of Grace. Embrace your new life–your new start. And seek a life deeply rooted in Christ.