A story of justice and judgment from the life of Jesus.
You can hear the same words every time you fly a commercial airline. “In the unlikely event the cabin should suddenly lose pressure … please fit the mask securely around your nose and mouth before assisting others.” Those little yellow cups attached to the clear plastic bags and tubes that magically drop from the ceiling are really life-preservers.
That warning goes out countless times every day to those traveling the skies. A little yellow mask might fall from the cabin roof. If it does, secure your own mask first before trying to help anyone else on with their mask. In short—if your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and you pass out, you will have helped no one.
A spiritual message for our times?
Believers of every denominational background can be replete with opinions, advise, and “constructive criticism” for others—regularly forthcoming without prompting, feeling they have a divine duty to perform. Often it seems couched in righteous vocabulary like “sharing,” or “fellowshipping.” Yet in reality, perhaps it is trying to help someone else on with their oxygen mask, while suffering spiritual depletion themselves because they haven’t first checked their own spiritual condition.
Obviously, if we see sin “in the camp” we have a biblical obligation to see that it is addressed. This is not a point that should be open for debate. There are clear Scriptural principles and procedures to follow all designed to help bring someone who has fallen “off the path,” back into a proper, godly relationship.
But what happens when we attack the problem when our spiritual oxygen masks are out of alignment?
And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:3-7, NASB).
What Yeshua (Jesus) may have been saying to the mob was, “You’re all suffering spiritual depletion in your brains. Let me help you with your life-preserving, spiritual oxygen mask.”
There was a problem. A woman had allegedly (and it has never been demonstrated to be more than an allegation) been caught in adultery. Capital punishment was the appropriate spiritual response—the Bible says so. Being upright, spiritual men, they invoked the Holy Writ—”the Law Moses commanded.” It certainly seemed like they had their oxygen masks in place.