Thursday, November 15, 2012

Get on my Level.

"Get on my level." One of the best taunts in the world - at least, for my generation. I've heard my brother say it a million times as he plays Call of Duty or some sport or another. Friends of mine have said it to tease each other about something. It's in the media, with celebrities endorsing a product or advertising a game or whatever they're doing nowadays. If you do a Google image search for it, you receive 4,130,000,000 in 0.27 seconds. (At least, that's what Google tells me.) 
So what does it mean? Well, obviously, you have to get on that person's level. They're different than you - in a better way than you are. You're below them. When someone tells you to 'get on their level' in a sport, then you aren't playing as well as they are. If you hear it in the media, then that person is telling you you aren't as successful as they are. It's a taunt.A joke. A ridicule. 
What if it was a good thing, though?
In John 8, we read of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Like, literally. Some creeps were watching her and a man who was not her husband, and turned them in. The man got away - unfortunately for her, this was common and allowed in those times - leaving her to face the punishments. The Pharisees and scribes have this woman in the town square, waiting her punishment. To be caught in a sin such as this was punishable by being stoned to death, and the townspeople were probably already raring to go, stones in hand. 
The Pharisees, however, see an opportunity to try and trap Jesus - something they were good at attempting, but never successful at. They grab the woman and fling her down at his feet in the center of the crowd that was almost certainly gathered around by then. Starting in verse 4, we read this:
"They (the Pharisees) said to Him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?'"
This woman probably had nothing on, maybe a sheet to cover herself with if she was lucky. Already her embarrassment and emotions are high - she woke up that morning to just another day, with a chance to meet with the man she would be caught with somewhere in the plans for the day. Now she is laying practically naked on the hard ground in front of Jesus, a respected teacher, and surrounded by Pharisees and members of the town. This was not going well for her. She expected the worst to come from Jesus, a judgement fitting of a respected teacher and a follower of the Law of Moses. She probably braced herself for the words along with the stones that would surely follow.
Imagine her surprise, then, as Jesus does something completely unexpected. He doesn't condemn her. He doesn't ridicule her or add to her embarrassment and fear. Instead, He does something completely unprecedented. 
He gets on her level.
Jesus literally kneels down to the dirt next to the woman and begins writing in the dirt. Put yourself in the eyes of those who were there: 
The crowd was probably shocked - what is He doing? Why is He doing that? Does He even have an answer?
The Pharisees were probably confused, and some may have been angry - who does He think He is? He shouldn't be writing, he should be agreeing with us. What is He doing?
The woman was probably the most shocked out of all of them. What is He doing next to me? The others don't want anything to do with me other than to kill me for what I've done. I've made a mistake, and I have to pay for it. So what is taking Him so long to tell them to kill me?
Let's pick up in verse 7:
"And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground."
So let's review: an adulterous woman is brought before Jesus for judgement. Instead of condemning, He gets on her level not once, but twice, and then tells those so quick to throw a stone that whoever is on a different level and hasn't sinned can throw the first stone. 
Well then.
The story concludes with the people crowded around slowly dropping their stones as they realize the weight of Jesus' words far outweighs the weight of whatever they're holding. Eventually, no one is left but Jesus and the woman. She had to be confused out of her mind, trying to make sense out of the crazy scene that had just happened. Jesus stands up and asks, "Where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She tells Him that no, there's no one left. This is what He says:
"And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.'" v. 11
Jesus has made a tremendous impact in the time it took for this story to happen. First, He gets down on the level of an adulterous woman - one of the lowliest people in those days. Second, He tells the crowd to reevaluate their lives before impacting this woman's life. Third, He gets BACK down on the ground near the woman. Then, He gets up, shakes off the dust, and shows how no one is left to condemn the woman, and that He doesn't, either.
There are some major lessons that can be learned from this.
When Jesus shows the woman how everyone has gone, He's showing her who really matters in this situation - just the two of them. The woman doesn't need to have everyone judge her based on her sins. If this was what needed to happen, all of us would last about a week before someone would stone us to death based on our sins. Instead, it's just the woman and Jesus. The only two that matter. Once the matter is taken care of - the woman asks for forgiveness, she sees His love her for, and really doesn't want to do it again - then it's over with. Finished. It doesn't need to be dealt with with other people. They may judge, but who really cares? Her sin, and ours, is only between us and God. Only He can fix us. Why should we make other people try?
Jesus got down on her level - not in the way we see it now, but on a completely opposite way. He was perfect - He did literally nothing wrong His entire life, and here He is getting down in the dirt with an adulteress. He's reaching below His level to someone who is and never can be as good as Him. And He does it twice. Jesus does this and is willing to do this every day. He wants a relationship with us - He doesn't want us to think that He is so far away and unreachable just because He is perfect and holy. While He is those things, Jesus is still right there. He loves us enough to go down to our levels - our sad, sinful levels - and reach out to us there. And He's willing to do it again - not just twice, like with this woman, but as many times as it takes until we get the picture and see His love.
Your NR challenge for this post is this: what level are you putting Jesus on? What level are you on? Do you think that He is unreachable? Do you need Him to bend down and look you in the eye to see His love for you, so He can rescue you from wherever you are? Or are you afraid of the judgement of others, even if you know it doesn't matter? Know this: whatever you've done, whatever you'll do, whatever you've been and whatever you are, God loves you. God cares about you. He's right here, on your level. Will you look up and see Him?
Are you in?


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