Posted by: mikenicholsblog | May 25, 2016

a rock and a grace place

Have you ever been caught between “a rock and a hard place” or faced a “catch 22” situation? No matter which way you turned, things were not going to work out easily. And someone would not be happy with your choice. Part of life’s journey is navigating hard choices with seemingly no good alternatives.

On one particular day, Christ came face to face with “a rock and a hard place” confrontation. He used divine wisdom to navigate the moment and showed extravagant grace in the process. In the “catch 22” moments we are sure to face, Jesus’ pattern of confrontation and grace give us insightful direction.

Even the secular world will use biblical wisdom like: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7b) The event where Jesus spoke these words occurred on a literal “rock and a hard place” day in His earthly life. Religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus. While He was teaching, they brought a woman caught in the act of adultery. It could not be argued this woman had sinned, but her sin was merely the bait within a trap which the religious elite expected to snare Jesus.  The leaders confronted Jesus with these words, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4b-5)

Humanly speaking, Christ was in a no-win situation. If He said “stone her,” it would injure His ministry as a “friend of publicans and sinners.” How could they believe His message of grace and forgiveness with such a sentence? But if He answered “No!” He would be in conflict with the Law of Moses and the just penalty for that particular sin. So what did He do? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, bent down and wrote on the ground with His finger. There has been great speculation over what He wrote in the dirt.  I would love to know the answer! (a question for heaven, perhaps). After writing, the Lord straightened up and spoke the famous words mentioned above, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He again bent down to write.

Godly wisdom and grace had won the day. And with those words, the “religious” crowd started leaving, one-by-one, with the oldest going first (an interesting detail). He had confronted the “rock and hard place” as well as the hypocrisy of the crowd of judges. But what happened to the woman caught in adultery? As the last person walked away, just she and Jesus stood alone.  Jesus asked her …

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:10b-11

Jesus took what had been “a rock and a hard place” and made it into “a rock and a grace place.”

So what can we take from this stoning that never was? First of all, be careful of the condemning spirit which can so easily rear its ugly head (the one that sees a splinter in their brother’s eye and misses the log in its own —  Matthew 7:3-5). None of us is without sin. I am also reminded that godly confrontation is the standard and is much-needed as we stand amidst the rocks.  Truth tellers sometimes have to confront. And although we may never be as masterful in the rocky places, we can be as merciful.  God’s wisdom is absolutely available and His grace is to be re-gifted.

Of all this real life moment teaches me, the most important truth is that people matter above all to God. The adulterer was shamed, but Christ forgave her.  I believe her heart was changed. It is easy to look outward with condemning eyes, but when we love like Christ, our words will be full of grace and compassion — not condemnation!  Follow His example and leave your rocks lie in a grace place.

Please know that at Journey on Word, our desire is to show the grace and compassion of Christ through our writing. Our hope is to encourage Christ-followers, and to share the hope of salvation to anyone who is searching for the ultimate peace that only Christ can give. If we can help you on the journey, please contact us at:


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