John 8:7-9 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
The older I get, the wiser I become. It is not because of age necessarily, but because of the experiences I have gained during my aging. What does this have to do with the chosen passage? Well, in a training recently, this passage was used as the basis. While the group being trained discussed aspects for the passage, one man repeated “…the older ones first…” And it was repeated by yet another in the group. At this moment, I thought to myself, “There is something in that.”
This passage has a focus on both the faults of the Pharisees and the grace and mercy of Jesus. And it should be. My pulling this piece out and going somewhere different than the story is sometimes where God speaks loudest to me. I am continually amazed from where He speaks to me so unexpected. To me, as long as a passage is not going against the character of God, it is useful for building me further and deeper into the man He intends me to be.
With that being said…notice how the Pharisees, men full of themselves and self-righteous have no answer for Jesus. And, the ones who notice first are the oldest. These men lead the way. Life experience has told them that this is not the hill they are willing to die on. Jesus has them and they know it. Even in self-righteousness, the Pharisees see their own sin and cannot argue against Jesus’ reasoning.
One of our former preachers once said, “When I was young I sinned all I want. Now that I am older, I sin more than I want.” The experience of living a number of years has told me much the same. Three things come up for me as this passage finds it’s landing on my heart.
First, the wisdom of the advanced aged person is not so silly and binding as it once was when I was younger. I am now beginning to see why patience is a virtue. I was frustrated by how the older generation would “wait and see” how situations would unfold before making a decision. Now, I am beginning to learn how valuable “wait and see” is in life.
Second, “older ones” still lead, and lead well. Yes, there is a large subset of the current young generation that looks upon the “older ones” as silly…and even holds contempt toward them. Yet, as I see life unfolding and how God works, I notice how the younger generation still follows the “older ones” just like in this passage. I could imagine the conversation between the two generations after they walked away. I bet there was even some divisive talk.
Third, I am finding myself growing more and more fond of the “older ones.” I have learned much even when I disagreed with those ahead of me. And now that I am on the cusp of that next tier of life, I am beginning to see the wisdom of what I used to think were questionable decisions. There is just no replacement for wisdom and experience. It is a great tool in replacing youthfulness.
The challenge for me…and you is to look to the “older ones.” Even among the self-righteous, they showed true wisdom.
1. When this article drilled down to the thought around the “older ones”, what did you think and/or feel?
2. What other thoughts did you have as you read both the passage and this article?
3. Where have you discounted the “older ones” in your life?
4. What have you learned since then?
5. This week, find one “older one” in your life and bless him/her for his/her life, experience, guidance, and wisdom.
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