#CreativeSolutions #ConflictResolution #Jesus #MarthasVineyard
God did not call you to a natural life, but a supernatural life, with supernatural creative solutions!
John 8:2-11 Early in the morning He went back into the temple courts. All the people came to Him, and He sat down to teach them. The scribes and Pharisees, however, brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before them and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do You say?”
They said this to test Him, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with His finger.
When they continued to question Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” And again He bent down and wrote on the ground.
When they heard this, they began to go away one by one, beginning with the older ones, until only Jesus was left, with the woman standing there. Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, Lord,” she answered.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”
Today we’re going to talk about Supernatural Creative Solutions.
In life, there’s always going to be times of order and times of chaos. The wise man of Ecclesiastes says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
In other words, life has cycles of solution and dissolution. That’s only natural. But Jesus didn’t come to call you to a natural life – he called you to a supernatural one. So supernatural that he has to remind us, “With man it is impossible, but with God nothing is impossible.”
That means when those times of natural destructive dissolution come, God has supernatural creative solutions in store for you.
God is knocking on everyone’s door. He is closer to you than you think. God isn’t like Tinkerbelle – in the old Peter Pan story, if people stopped believing in her, she’d die and disappear. But with God, it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in him, or if you’re struggling with doubt in your faith – He isn’t affected by that in the least! He is with you no matter what. He is following your every move, and He is working in your life. He is there in every trouble and every comfort; in every twist and turn, the hard corners and the soft landings.
When a time of natural destructive dissolution comes in your life, that’s when it’s best to try to get to know your supernatural God and his supernatural ways – because he has supernatural creative solutions prepared for you.
In the story of the woman caught in adultery, the scribes and Pharisees were preparing a natural destructive dissolution for her. They pointed to the Law and said, “We caught this woman red-handed – the Law says she must be stoned to death!”
They wanted to test Jesus, and catch him in a bad call, so they could call him a false teacher, a heretic, what have you. They knew Jesus’ reputation and his preaching about forgiveness – they probably thought he’d defend her, and then they’d be able to corner him and say, “She’s not innocent, she’s guilty – we caught her red-handed! Jesus doesn’t care about justice!”
On the other hand, if he said, “She’s guilty – stone her!” his reputation would be forever associated with the stoning of this woman – so much for forgiveness and the Prince of Peace!
These were the obvious choices, the natural destructive dissolutions that the scribes and Pharisees hoped to trap Jesus with.
But Jesus chooses neither Door 1 nor Door 2. Instead, he does something interesting. He bends down. What does that teach us? He doesn’t rise up and escalate – he bends down and de-escalates.
Next time someone’s trying to get a “rise out of you”, remember Jesus’ example: bend down, de-escalate.
Bending down is not just a symbol de-escalation – it’s a symbol of prayer. Kneeling before the throne and bringing it to God. In a conflict situation, that’s one of the first steps to a supernatural creative solution.
Jesus does something else while he’s bent down: he writes on the ground with his finger. People wonder what the significance is of that. Well, everyone elses’ fingers were busy with something else, weren’t they? They were busy pointing fingers. When everyone is busy pointing fingers, make sure your finger is busy doing something else.
Well, the Pharisees didn’t like being ignored like this. They pestered Jesus until finally, he stood up, and said, “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone.” Then he bent back down again to write in the ground.
When they heard this, they all went away, one by one, starting with the oldest. One can only assume that, having lived the longest lives, the oldest had the most sins. And perhaps, also, they were the wisest, and the most humbled by what Jesus had said. But they all went away – one by one –
— As individuals, not as a group.
That’s because Jesus had dissolved the herd mentality, the group-think. He led them to think for themselves, and to make their own individual choices, and to take ownership of their actions.
Each one of us is responsible for our own decisions. By de-escalating, and minimizing his role in their conflict, Jesus was teaching them personal responsibility – and by bringing up their sins, he was pointing out the hypocrisy of sinners condemning sinners. He was exposing their self-righteousness.
He was also exposing their disobedience. Because it wasn’t just what he said about their sins that spoke volumes – but also what he did next: He bent back down and started writing in the ground again.
That’s the second time he wrote in the ground with his finger. The Gospel writer John thought the two counts of finger-writing was important to mention, because there is another meaning to this finger-writing that would have been familiar to the scribes and Pharisees, and a bit frightening at that.
The man writing in the ground before them was more than just a man, he is the Lord. That was the finger of God writing in the sand. Do you remember what else the finger of God wrote? The Law itself.
The Law had to be written upon stone twice – because the first time Moses came down from Sinai with the tablets of the Law, the Israelites were disobedient, worshiping the golden calf, and so Moses smashed the tablets to bits. God was ready to destroy them all, and He sent plagues upon the people. It says three thousand people died that very day,
But Moses pleaded with God, “No, please have mercy – give us another chance, don’t destroy us completely.” So God in his mercy relented from destroying them completely, but the second time around, he made Moses chisel the Law by hand, because God wouldn’t touch the earth Himself.
Jesus, in writing with his finger, was reminding them what happens when you disobey the Law written by the finger of God. Nasty business. In writing a second time with his finger, touching the earth a second time, he was suggesting, warning in fact: “If you quit with this disobedience while you’re still ahead, you can avoid what the ancestors at Sinai didn’t.”
He was also reminding them that even the Law, written not with the finger of God but the chisel of Moses, which had punishments for sin, was nonetheless born in mercy. They wouldn’t have had a Law without God showing mercy and giving them a second chance. This is to show that there’s no Law, and therefore no justice, if not for God’s mercy. Mercy comes first.
Jesus is saying, “Don’t come to the table looking for justice without putting mercy first in your heart. Without mercy, there is no justice.”
Now, in saying and doing these simple things, Jesus didn’t just teach his opponents a humiliating lesson – he saved a woman’s life. The Law said she could and should die for her crime of adultery! That would have been the natural course of things – the natural destructive dissolution.
Instead, the finger of God intervened with a supernatural creative solution. And watch what happens next. Jesus asks her, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”
She says, “No one, Lord.”
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
This is what we call getting off with a warning! She calls him Lord – because he is the Lord of Heaven and Earth. His was the finger that wrote the Law that she broke – and yet he took no offense. “Neither do I condemn you” — these are the words of the only man without sin, who could have thrown the first stone if he wanted to.
But he didn’t. Instead, he saved her, and called her to repentance – He opened the way for her to have a new life.
Instead of a natural destructive dissolution, he gave her a supernatural creative solution – so creative that He literally created a new life in her.
This is what God has done for all of us. While the Law of Moses, and every other Law of Man, says: “your bad works will destroy you and your good works will save you”; the Grace of Jesus Christ says: “you will be saved from your bad works unto good works” (Eph. 2:10).
When the cycle of life brings a conflict, don’t come to the table like the scribes and Pharisees. They wanted justice, but forgot mercy, and came calling for a natural destructive dissolution. But true justice isn’t about punishment, it’s born in mercy, as the story of the Israelites in the Desert shows us – if justice isn’t about saving people, it’s self-righteous; if it’s only about condemning others, it’s disobedient to Creator; in short, hypocritical justice is something that people need to be saved from, like the woman caught in adultery.
And the Bible tells us, this is the way of the world – this is natural destructive dissolution.
In Christ alone, we have the supernatural creative solution: mercy. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” It’s not just about coming to the table – the table of the world has the bread of adversity, the water of affliction, (Is. 30:20) the wine of wrath; but the table of the Lord has the bread of life, the water of life, and the wine of the new covenant, the blood shed for the forgiveness of sins.
There is nothing more supernatural than forgiveness, since it took an act of God to accomplish it for all humankind. There is nothing more supernatural than mercy, since God is love, and revealed himself fully in Christ on the Cross, who died that the divine bonds of humanity would not be broken by sin, but healed and bound together by the forgiveness of sins, by the ministry of reconciliation.
Next time you see natural destructive dissolution occurring – remind yourself what Jesus died and was raised in order to testify to all mankind: there is always a supernatural creative solution. And your job as Christians, as witnesses of this testimony, is to bend down and seek the intervention of the finger of God – and be a co-creator in his supernatural creative solutions. Amen.