When you hear Jesus speak, shame falls to the ground.
In John 8, we read the story of a woman nearing the end. She had been caught in the very act of adultery. Onlookers had the lethal stones in their hands. Ashamed, she crawled in the dust awaiting her fate—until Jesus arrived.
The scene seems, at first glance, clear: the woman is a sinner who is full of shame and the religious leaders are unashamed, brimming with self-righteous zeal. For most of my life, I assumed that shame was the stuff for the guy in the gutter, not the CEO or the lead pastor.
But the same sense of inferiority can lead one person into rebellion and another into perfectionism. The Pharisees had as much shame as the adulteress and Jesus knew it.
Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground. We don’t know what he was writing, but I think it had to do with the Pharisees’ sins. I don’t think Jesus even looked up as he wrote. I think he just listened as the Pharisees dropped their stones on the ground and shuffled away. And then he stood; no doubt he wanted to look the woman in the eyes.
“Where are your accusers?” Jesus asked. “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you.”
That’s the healing moment. Jesus had the woman’s undivided attention. She wasn’t listening to what any other man had said. There, with her accusers gone, for once in her life, she didn’t hear the shame.
She was listening to her Savior.
The cross of Jesus Christ silences the accuser’s voice. Because Jesus has taken your sin, hell has no accusation left against you. That’s why, when you listen to Jesus’ voice, shame falls to the ground. When you listen to Jesus’ voice, you are free. And that’s the Gospel!