Turning up the Volume

May 12, 2009

zip mouth

How’s your vocal volume?

What is it that enables, empowers, encourages you to speak?

What is it that shuts you up, or shuts you down?

Do you speak more loudly for others than for yourself?

Are you an advocate – one who is a voice on behalf of others? Or are you searching and longing for an advocate yourself. One who will stand alongside and speak alongside?

Jesus is renowned both for his speaking and for his silence – both in wise measure.

Can we learn from how Jesus spoke, as much as what he spoke? What can we learn?


  1. Just been thinking and writing about a time when Jesus didn’t say much at all which is recorded in John 8. He was put in a position where both his life and the life of a woman were at risk. How was he to respond… defend himself and/or the women. Rather than mounting an argument, he bends down and draws in the dirt. Was he thinking? Praying the situation might go away? Searching for inspiration? We don’t know. what we do know is that eventually he stood up, agreed with the law first as it was written (“All right, stone her”) and then also in the spirit of grace which God brings (“But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!”).

    Jesus spoke cautiously. He spoke out of freedom for all not condemnation for the accused or the accuser. He allowed silence and spoke into people’s lives, not into theological arguments. He knew the power of words to change lives.

    • Well, coincidentally, I’ve been thinking a bit about John 8 as well. Here’s my little song written from inside that story.

      Here I lie in the rocks and the sand
      Here I lie but I can’t understand
      Why judgement didn’t fall from your hand
      When it’s my blood everyone round me demands

      I’m not arguing about my misdeeds
      I’m not arguing – it’s you that I need
      And I’m not resisting now it’s you who leads me
      -into grace
      -into life

  2. Here is the bit I wrote that I mention above. I hope you can follow it without any formatting.

    John 8: 2-11

    Early the next morning Jesus was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

    So there I was, standing in front of everyone, ashamed, clearly guilty. When the religious leaders got involved I was sure that would be the end of me. After all, the law said I should be killed. And when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, I was dragged into the Temple, obviously unclean, and put in front of Jesus. The fear and guilt stopped me from even looking at him.

    “Teacher”, they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What so you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

    I was in front of everyone, being used as bait by the religious leaders. Did they even care what I’d done? Was my brokenness even the issue? … I was stuck in the middle of a trap set up for Jesus. They were using my brokenness to frame someone else! I waited for what felt like eternity, and Jesus didn’t speak. He just bent down and wrote in the dust. They didn’t let up, they shot accusation at him with just as much fervour as they had directed it at me. The difference was that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Something bigger than the law was at work here. And I began to wonder, was there a chance that I might somehow find freedom in him.

    They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!” Then he stooped down again wrote in the dust.

    No! Don’t turn your face from me. I need saving. I know that I have done wrong. It’s clear that I’m guilty. But…doesn’t anyone care…
    Well, the law is on your side. I’m the guilty one. There’s no question about that. Get it over and done with. Through the stones. Come on! …
    I held my breath and waited…and waited. I glanced up. One of the older religious leaders was looking straight at me. He turned his back and slipped away quietly. Then another, and another. What was going on?
    As Jesus was crouching down writing in the sand, I was being freed, one person at a time.

    When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

    No, Lord

    And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

    So I went… alive, freed, or at least dismissed by the religious leaders; and with the offer of forgiveness from Jesus for a new day. Do I dare believe that I may even be forgiven by God?

  3. Beyond reading it on this blog, I loved actually experiencing this passage with a community at our evening service. The physical act of choosing to lay down our stones was very powerful. Thank you; thank you.

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