You will never be able to unsee the shocking way Jesus responded to clickbait!

Clickbait is annoyingly effective. Increasingly, websites use it because we can’t help but click on a link that promises to shock or titillate us.  Who wouldn’t click on a headline that reads:

5 reasons firefighters are giving up their Dalmatians for Dachshunds

(Number 4 will blow your mind!)

Why do we click on something that is so obviously a bait and switch? There are lots of theories out there that try to figure out our counter-intuitive beahvior, but I think it boils down to one simple reason: sin.

Sometimes the sin that drives our click is obvious, like lust.  Let’s admit it…there’s no pure intent behind clicking on:

She had no idea the cameraman was shooting from that angle! 

Other times, our sins are much more subtle and that’s where clickbait thrives.  All too frequently, we are drawn into clickbait because we can’t get ourselves to look away from other people’s pain and embarrassment for the sake of our own entertainment.

But what if you were the subject of the clickbait?

What if your most secret sin (the one you have never told anyone about) was right there on the screen for everyone to see?

He had no idea the camera caught him in the shameful act of…

Would you click if it was your picture behind the headline?

Or would you do everything in your power to keep others from clicking?

In the Gospel of John, a first-century version of this scenario played itself out. Some religious guys dragged a scantily clad woman into the temple and announced her sin to the world.

We caught this woman in the very act of adultery!

You can imagine the horror in her eyes as her worse secret sin became the focus of everyone’s attention. Click. Click. Click.

Then it got worse when one of her accusers reminded everyone of the punishment for her sin.

“Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” John 8:5 ESV

How would you react if you were in the crowd?  Would you grab a stone?  Would you stand as still as possible hoping no one knew about the person’s bed you crawled out of that morning?  Would you gawk at her naked body?  I can tell one thing for sure, no one left the scene.  Whether motivated by entertainment or indignation, they had to know how this was going to play out.

So how did Jesus respond? Did he click?

Nope. Instead, he wrote his own headlines. Dropping to his knees, Jesus began to doodle in the dirt. John doesn’t tell us what he doodled, but I think he started by writing her headline in the sand.

Woman sleeps with man she isn’t married to and thinks she can get away with it!

His doodling didn’t seem to satisfy those who had dragged the woman to him because they kept pestering him to tell them what he thinks they should do. Click. Click. Click.

That’s when Jesus dropped his now infamous editorial:

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Then he went back to doodling in the dirt, this time with intense purpose. Again, John doesn’t tell us what he wrote but I think he began to write out some more headlines that hit too close to home for the crowd.

Local man steals goat from neighbor and gets away with it (so he does it again)!

You won’t believe the five ways this teenager disrespected her parents!

You’ll need a shower for your soul after you read about this man’s secret habit!

As each person read their own personalized clickbait, “they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her,

‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’ (John 8:9–11)

How Jesus responded to this woman’s sin will change your life forever!

With tenderness in his eyes, Jesus looked at this woman who was trapped in her own sin and the sins of others and he set her free.  He set her free from the lecherous stares of the supposedly holy men, he set her free from the power of sin that had ensnared her that very day, and he set her free from the eternal consequences of her sin.

When she was expecting judgment, Jesus wrote a new headline she would be compelled to click every day for the rest of her life:

Jesus turns local woman’s worst day ever into her best day ever!