Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Buffaloed By Our Own Folly

"Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Should you not fear me?" declares the LORD. 
  "Should you not tremble in my presence?" Jeremiah 5:21-22
I some time ago read the post, "College Roommates" in Joel's "A Day in the Life of Nutuba" and immediately thought, "the man is nostalgic for Curt's pet Buffalo." (You can go to his Blog by clicking the title of this post.) So it seemed a kindness to provide him with a view of a buffalo, in this case, staring me and my camera down.

Now I am often braver with a camera,  sighting through a viewfinder, than my naked eye would recommend, but I admit I took these photos out of the relative safety of my car window.
Granted, given the size of the beast staring back, I'm not sure just how secure I was in our little Pumpkin, as my wife called our orange Cobalt. That monster could probably have cracked it like a pumpkin shell with a single charge.
My wife had felt threatened enough earlier by this ostrich. My wife's reaction to it was pulling the food bucket she held further across the seat toward me and screaming "go away". I had to remind her it would be better to stick the food bucket out her window so the bird would follow suit and I could drive from it.
She finally did and we escaped, but it shows how we people often react counter-intuitive to what might be the better action. 
At least we weren't breaking any commandments.

 When we entered the safari park in Virginia, there was this rule: Do not feed the Zebras...

(Sorry, buddy, the restaurant is closed, my window is up.)

...the Watusi or...

the Bison.

But just like Adam and Eve, who could not follow one simple rule, neither could the family ahead of us.
Take note of the size of the beast to the size of the van. There were two children in the back. The Bison continued forward until it was up to its shoulders into that vehicle. It seemed determined to climb in with them. 
They were fortunate to have gotten away without harm or damages. 
Yet, isn't this the nature of man? God gave us Laws and we refused to keep them, so he provided us with a Savior. Still, we invite all kinds of things into our lives which are potentially harmful and dangerous without a thought to the consequences, but we are reluctant to invite Christ into our hearts.
We throw our doors open to beasts that could easily crush us when we could easily protect ourselves behind the gates of the Kingdom of God, safe in the hands of Jesus and protected by the Holy Spirit. But too often our eyes don't see, our ears don't hear and we show less fear of evil than of God. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pavarotti, Domingo and that Other Guy, and Peter.


Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:22-31 (NIV)

Simon Peter was a compulsive man of action. But he was always tripping, probably because he kept trying to walk with one foot in his mouth. That was his other characteristic, not being able to keep his mouth shut. It makes him a good foil. We sit here and snicker at his bluster as he takes a few steps onto the water, looks down and sinks. It brings images of Wily Coyote running several feet off the side of a cliff, and then realizing nothing solid is under him and plummeting.

But I'll tell you, I didn't see any of those other guys jumping off the boat. Nobody else was making any leap of faith here. How about you and me? Would we have stepped over the railing in a storm and believed we could walk even one stride length on water?

Even so, Peter lost it and Jesus had to save him. 

Hmm? All kinds of lessons going on here wouldn’t you say? 

Peter steps out boldly when his eyes are on Christ, but he begins to sink when he looks away and cuts his contact with God. He is in danger of drowning until Jesus takes hold of him and saves him. So is the metaphor that as long as we keep our eyes on Christ we will be okay?

I think there is more to it than that. Jesus was walking on the water a few yards away. Yes, Peter glanced down and began to sink. But why couldn't he have simply looked back at Jesus and kept going? What was missing? Let's look at some of Peter's yo-yo performances as an Apostle and try to unravel this mystery.

Early on, Peter seems to have a lot less faith. Jesus has been teaching a crowd from one of Simon Peter's boats.  When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.  Luke 5:4-10 (NIV)

Peter never feared speaking his mind. He isn't telling Jesus to command him to do anything here. He's already sinking. Can't you just see him rolling his eyes when he says, "But because you say so." You can just hear him whisper under his breath to James or John, "shows you how much a carpenter knows about fishing. But he's the boss and we are not to reason why."  

Of course by the time he attempts to walk on water he's seen several other miracles besides this, like feeding thousands of people with just a few fish and chips. Still, as long as Jesus is right there to grab him, he gets bold, but if Jesus goes a bit distant or Peter gets distracted by worldly trouble, he sinks again.

It is after one of those big crowd feedings that Jesus asks his Disciples a question: "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ." Mark 8:29 (NIV)
Sounds like Peter has it together now, doesn't it? For about two minutes, until Jesus began telling them what was going to happen.

He (Jesus) then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Mark 8:31-33 (NIV)

You can see Peter was a self-assured man. He was full of pride and he trusted in his own ability to solve problems. He just declared Jesus the Messiah, yet Peter has the audacity to tell the Son of God he doesn't know what he is talking about. No one is going to harm Jesus while Peter is around. Old Rock-hard Peter the Pebble is going to keep Jesus safe. "Don't worry, Christ, anyone threatens and I'll save you," he says and once again it is Jesus has to save Peter, this time from Satan.

Being a fast learner, Peter now understands and never questions Jesus again, right?

Yeah, right. It's a Passover week. Jesus has the Disciples together and he begins to do something out of protocol to him and their positions.

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you not going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" John 13:5-9 (NIV)

What is Peter's problem? Is he bipolar or something? At least he may be becoming more contrite or maybe not.

They are in the Garden of Gethsemane. A whole bunch of soldiers show up to arrest Jesus.
Again he (Jesus) asked them, "Who is it you want?" 
 And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." "I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go." This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) John 18: 7-10 (NIV)

Despite all the times that Jesus told his Apostles this was going to happen, Peter is still trying to be the protector. He is carrying a sword. He uses it in this situation. Believe me, it wasn't Peter's intention to cut off Malchus' ear. He was going to cut off the whole head, but Malchus ducked. Old Peter was going to take on the whole military outfit. Once again, Peter was going to save Jesus and Jesus had to step forth and save Peter.

Peter the Brave, the Savior's savior, isn't he quite the superhero? We find out just how super Peter is not long afterward his short swordplay.

Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter. 

He replied, "I am not." John 18:15-18. (NIV)

Jesus is out of sight, out of mind. Peter is for Peter here. He's looking down into the stormy cold sea and trying to swim to shore to save him self. 

Yet later we will see a Peter who won't deny Christ even under torture or death, despite the fact that Jesus is gone to Heaven and Peter can't stand right next to Him and see Him and be grabbed by Him. What was Peter's problem all those other times when Jesus was right nearby and what cured it?

There is a Seinfeld episode called "The Maestro". A running gag involves "The Three Tenors".  You know, Pavarotti, Domingo and...and...and that other guy.

Pavarotti, Domingo and that other guy, therein lays the answer to Peter's problem.


"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:1-14 (NIV)

When did this discourse occur? Why, on the night of the last supper, on the eve of Christ's crucifixion, and he was preparing his Disciples for his leaving them. Thomas and Phillip, after all this time and what they had seen, do not sound ready to be great evangelists, no precursors of the two Billys: Sunday and Graham. And where is Simon Peter to reiterate his great profession of Jesus as the Son of God?
I wouldn't be surprise to learn Peter was over in a corner sulking at this moment because he's the one who asked Jesus where he was going and reacted with his usual bluster at the answer:
Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?"

Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."

 Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."

 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!"  John 13:36-38 (NIV)

Even if Jesus wasn't God and knew what was going to happen tomorrow, he would have probably still asked if Peter would really lay down his life for him.  It was a "been there-done that" kind of moment.
If you think about that question, it is not just aimed at Peter. It's a question being asked of us as well. Will you and I really lay down our lives for Him?

Peter didn't come back with any snappy insistence that he would.  This is where Thomas and Phillip jumped in and showed they aren't so ready for things either. 

Jesus' reply is one of several in Scripture where he says he is God. "If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." And also here we have one of the core, undeniable principles of our faith, one of those on which we who claim to be Christian must agree or we will be like Peter denying we know Him: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Yet, we still have Peter's problem. Peter does indeed deny knowing Jesus three times and then he runs and hides. Thomas and Phillip had already run and hid right after Jesus was arrested. At least Peter had the gumption to go with John to the courtyard.

And after the Crucifixion where were Peter and all these guys, and some gals that had been going everywhere with Jesus as well. Hiding in a room shaking in their boots. Seemed like Christianity was going nowhere.

Yeah, sure, Jesus rose again on Sunday and all and that boosted them up for a little over a month, but when he ascended up to Heaven, they didn't exactly hit the street corners proclaiming the good news.  They just kind of went back to that room and hung around wondering what to do next. 

They seem to have forgotten this:

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." John 14:15-17 (NIV)

Despite three years of teachings and miracles and seeing Jesus rise from the dead, there was no fire in their belly. There didn't seem anything would get them fired up now. It didn't seem anything short of the room catching fire would get them out of it.

Which is exactly what it took. 

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit... Acts 2:1-4  (NIV)

They hotfooted it out of that room in a blaze that changed the world. Now it is our commission to carry the flame, for we are lamps and shouldn't hide our light. "No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light." Luke 8:16 (NIV)

What was Peter's problem? He and the other disciples were men born just as we are with an empty place inside. They could walk around with the Lord and when they were with Him they took strength from God being near. But when Jesus was distant or gone, they just had that empty space. Jesus knew this and knew it was his sacrifice that would ultimately allow that empty space to be opened and filled. 
"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

If you have accepted Jesus as the Way, then you have the Holy Spirit in your formally empty space. You can't pray for the Spirit because you have already been given it. The more you use it the more you will have.  "Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him." Luke 8:18 (NIV)

When we look out on the stormy sea we will not see Jesus walking across the waves. If we see someone claiming he can calm the storm if we come to him, be careful, it isn't a ghost, it is the Prince of this World or one of his false prophets. No, don't look outward now. Look inward. God is always with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. We have what Peter lacked before Pentecost; we should not have Peter's problem. Just remember we know the truth and the world cannot unless we tell them.

 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  John 14:17 (KJV)

Oh, in case you are curious, the Three Tenors were Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti and...and...uh, that other guy...uh...
...Jose Carreras.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Verily, Verily, I Say Unto You: Just a Little Word...or...Two.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:3-17 (KJV)
I have experienced periods of silence many times during my life, periods when no words would come. It is distressing for a writer to have nothing to write. I had been suffering writer’s block and there was a long period between my last essay and this at the time it was written.
So I wanted to ease back into the water with just a word.
In John 3, Jesus said several times, "verily, verily". Actually, Jesus didn't say "verily". That is an old English word used by the translators of the King James Version. The translation was hardly necessary for the word Jesus spoke is still used today across the world in many languages every day. It is a Hebrew word that transcended the transliteration through Greek and Latin and has been said by us all at one time or another and quite often and regularly by some of us, although we don't usually put it where Jesus did, at the beginning of our statement.
The word is amen.
Every time we hear a prayer we hear amen as the last word. We have heard it that way so often many people probably think it means "the end". We probably think after the last scene of ancient Jewish movies a black screen with the block letters AMEN appeared and we all went home.
It doesn't mean the end, but when it comes at the end it means, "so be it" or "so may it be". We in the church pretty much follow the custom  as used in the synagogues. In those, after a discourse and solemn prayer was read or said, those assembled would respond "amen". This is more than just confirming the message; this is taking it as one's own.
But Jesus didn't wait until the end to say it. He started off with, "Amen, amen". Didn't he know better?
Sure he did. It was a word when used at the beginning had a slightly different meaning. It meant, "this is a truth", "truly" or "surely". Jesus doubled it up. What he was saying is, "this is the truth of all truths". 
Amen, amen, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." John 3:5 (NIV)
Sometimes we Christians disagree on interpretation of some passages. But in John 3 we have Jesus giving us the truth of all truths and we cannot disagree on this and call ourselves Christians.
We cannot accommodate the wishes of the world either and downplay what Christ has said. These are amen, amen statements. People who believe otherwise judge Christians as judgmental and narrow minded as they insist we must believe as they do. But then if we would not hold to these principles, we would not be Christians. I am not intolerant of other's beliefs. I do not wish to force them to have my views. You can't force faith on anyone. I am not judgmental of anyone because I don't know their heart. However, I don't keep my belief to myself, because I love them and wish them no harm -- ever and because the Lord commanded us to do so.
Amen, amen, I am narrow-minded because the path is narrow and few find it. I am narrow-minded because there is Christ and no other. Amen.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chess Master

Let's pretend you are a Chess Master, the greatest in the world. You enjoy a relationship with other chess players. You also enjoy their respect and admiration. You create a beautiful chess club for them and it is your hope through following your example, listening to what you teach and following your guidelines, they will develop as close as possible to your skill level. You often sit down and play the game with one of them and you bask in the praise they give you, in fact you expect it.   It is not that you need it or that you have an inflated ego. It is that you deserve it because of what you have accomplished and what you have provided to others to allow them to enjoy the game.
You know that new converts to the game don't always understand the subtleties and complexities of Chess. Many start out only knowing the moves of each piece and wouldn't know castling from taking en-passant. It doesn't matter, you hope by their constant playing by the rules, they will learn, and as long as they listen to you and trust the knowledge you have written in your Chess Manual, they will get better. 
When you sit down to play you have a purpose and a plan. Unlike many of your opponents who only have the purpose of winning, you know all the different named strategies and defenses of the game. Your purpose is to capture their King and your strategy is to control the center of the board while at the same time building a strong defense around your own King. Your plan is already many moves ahead of your opponent even before the first piece is moved.
Because you are the greatest Chess Master in the world, you easily can anticipate what your opponent will do and as the game progresses, your plan is working flawlessly. There is never a doubt you will win the game against this opponent. 
But then the opponent makes a move out of the expected. Perhaps it was simply a fortuitous accident, or perhaps the person made their move consciously and independently of anything you ever said in your manual. It may not be the move you would have made, may in fact be a poor move, but you don't interfere and force them to make the move you would have. They have a mind of their own.
You may have to alter your next move from the scheme you had in your head, but it still doesn't alter your plan. You can see ahead enough to know three or four moves will put you right back where you planned to be and the game still remains your certain win.
Now your opponent notices that your Queen is one move away from being helplessly exposed to their Bishop. They quickly, almost salivating, move their Bishop into position, seeing now a direct line to her and that she is cornered and no piece of yours can be positioned to block the Bishop. So they release their hand from the piece and sit back, stifling a self-satisfied smile, when they suddenly become aware this has put their own King into checkmate. They quickly grab the Bishop and move the piece back to its original position.
What do you do now?
They have broken a rule. When they released the piece, that became their move and they had no right to reset the Bishop and play another piece. You could reach out and move their Bishop back and say this is the rule, you must keep it no matter what and then go ahead and take their King.
You didn't make them make a bad move. You didn't make them break the rules. They did all that independently on their own.  But now you have intervened and enforced the rule and placed their King in jeopardy. You had every right to do so.  They did independently break the rules. They did independently make a bad move.  Now they will suffer the consequences of you taking their king. They are totally dependent on what you do.
You could do many things, whatever is in your will to do.  You could ignore the action and allow the move to stand, knowing it was a neophyte mistake and also knowing it will not prevent you winning the game. You can see the moves to make to quickly take their King, even if they do now capture your Queen. You may even see from their body language they have learned and won't make such a mistake again, so you show grace and allow it and forgive it.
On the other hand, you could point out they broke a rule and allow them an opportunity to independently decide to correct it, expecting they will repent of the breach and learn from it. If they choose not to do so, you might break the relationship and not play them again.  You could even banish them from the club. They are completely dependent on you for such results.
You could also point out to them they broke a rule, but tell them you will allow it this time because they have played the rest of the game well and you really do want their company and to share Chess with them.
Or let's consider something else, which could happen and compare it to prayer. Suppose after the opponent realized their poor judgment in making the Bishop move, they asked you if they could please replay the move. You could refuse their request and allow them to suffer the consequence of losing their King. This would not be wrong. It would be what they deserve and would be just and fair. Or you could allow their request seeing they understood both their error and the rules, but wished to be forgiven. This is showing mercy and granting Grace. They got into the situation independent of your actions, but are now dependent upon you for the results.
You know, the Pharisees and Sadducee continually played a kind of mental Chess with Jesus, trying to trap him and throw him off his game plan. There are many instances of this, but consider this one from John 8:1-11:
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "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?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
   But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
 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. Jesus straightened up and 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."
 These "Teachers of the Law" had independently decided this woman was guilty of adultery and they knew the Law. They confronted Jesus, not because they respected Him, but because they thought they had found a way to destroy his standing with the people or with God. Jesus did not answer their question. He knew the woman was guilty, but they were not acting in the spirit of the Law, but were acting independently of what God intended.
But Jesus, God, did not interfere with them. Nor in a sense, did he make the woman dependent on Him (Jesus-God).  Jesus said, go ahead and stone her, but let the sinless one cast the first stone. Each man decided independently to walk away, Jesus-God didn't make them drop the stones by Divine power or force them to go away. But He knew they would do this, he just didn't make them do it.
Jesus-God may have influenced their thought by his statement, but he did not hypnotize them or threaten them or cause them in anyway to spare the women. They had condemned her independently and they spared her independently. He could have chosen to make the outcome totally dependent upon Himself if he had wished. He could have "slipped" away with the woman, just as he had slipped away that time when people were about to throw him off a cliff.
Jesus then showed mercy to the woman. He certainly judged her sin was real and could have condemned her, but he did not. He said, "Go now and leave your life of sin."  This shows what? It shows indeed she was living a life of sin and was guilty. It shows he forgave her the sin. It shows he showed mercy. And it shows he left her to independently choose to leave her life of sin. He did not say, "Go now, for you will never be able to live a life of sin because all your future actions are totally dependent upon me."
In the story of Job, we can see Job was entirely dependent upon God for what he had. God allowed Satan to whisk all Job had away in an instant. Job had no input in the matter. Yet, when Job had originally gained his riches and built his family, he had done so by making independent decisions and by independent action. We are dependent on God for everything we have, but we are independent on how we get it. We are totally dependent on God for our salvation, but we independently brought on our condemnation.

Photo is me playing myself, which is why I never lost,  and I took it sometimes in the 1970s when I still had hair.