Why would a stranger do such a thing?
Here’s a trend you may have noticed. TV news stations spotlight positive news. To offset the great amount of negative or heartbreaking news, many stations end their 30-minute segments with something upbeat or affirming. When watching some of these inspiring stories, a great question can arise. “Why would a stranger do such a great thing?”
We can ask the same question when we consider Jesus. Why would Jesus do such a great thing as to die on the cross so that we might live with God eternally?
The answer is clear. Jesus is no stranger. He may be a stranger to some of us because we choose this, but we are no stranger to Him. The Son of God knows us intimately, just as I believe He knew the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).
Jesus doesn’t question this ‘adulterous” woman on the accusations the teachers of the religious law and the Pharisees bring against her. He is far more content writing teaching those nearby then He is to enter the debate the religious pros want to advance in regard to the law of Moses which would mean she should be stoned to death.
Why doesn’t Jesus question her? Why doesn’t He confront her on her sin?
I believe the answer is He knows she is sinner as He knows we are all sinners. His knowledge of this, coupled with His love for us, sent Him to the cross. While He did pray to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane for another fate, Jesus reveals something in this moment we need to consider. In this prayerful moment with His Father where He asks for the cup of suffering to be taken away from Him, Jesus shows us our own struggle to accept God’s will, not our comfort.
Jesus is no stranger to us. He understands our aversion to God’s will when it competes with what we want in the moment. He knows what the accused woman has done. He knows what she needs. What she needs, like what all of us need, is a pardon from her sins.
As the story continues in the Garden, Jesus returns to His disciples who have been sleeping. Rousing them, He encourages them to “get up and pray, so that they will not give into temptation (Luke 22:46b).”
After Jesus is betrayed by Judas, He has time to think. As He is led to the high priest’s home, I imagine He thinks of the adulterous woman. With each footfall, I imagine He understood—yet again—why He insisted He teach His disciples the importance of prayer as the means to avoid temptations like those the adulterous woman faced.
I also imagine Jesus understood why He had to fulfill the Isaiah prophesy which states that by His stripes we would be healed (Isaiah 53:5). He knew He would soon die on His cross so that the adulterous woman, those He taught, those He healed, the disciples, and all of us would be forever free from sin that, if kept, would separate us from eternal life with God in heaven.
A stranger didn’t do a great thing on the cross for us; the One who knows and loves us did the greatest thing on the cross for us. He set us free from sin.
How we show this to others is how we will live Easter each day.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on March 27, 2019.