I remember getting the wristband with that acronym on it like it was yesterday - H.W.J.C.?. I was attending an FCA coaches Bible study being led by Rod Olson in a room on the second floor at Cherry Hills Community Church. The study was attended by some guys who were important to the Colorado high school baseball scene - Marc Johnson and Mark Goldsberry from Cherry Creek, Dave Mumper and Joe White from ThunderRidge, John Cackowski from Highlands Ranch (now at Prep Baseball Report Colorado), and me. I was the new guy. A young guy in his late 20s who was exploring that acronym for the first time - How Would Jesus Coach? Fast forward 15 or so years later and the acronym still holds power for me and many other people. I’ve presented a wristband with the acronym to our coaches and athletes (the C stands for “Compete” for the athletes), and I’m watching them work through this question in their own minds and hearts every day. For the next series of Bottom of the Ninth offerings, Bot9 authors will offer up their thoughts on “How Would Jesus Coach?” through examples from the Gospels.
My first plate appearance in the series brings us to Jesus as he encounters the adulterous woman in John 8:1-8. Click the link to read the story before moving on if you’re unfamiliar with the text from God’s Word. The Pharisees have brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus so she will receive Christ’s judgment. Instead, she experiences the grace of Jesus.
How embarrassing is it when you’re caught in a mistake? I’ve made plenty, both on and off the field. One that comes to mind immediately for me is striking out looking with the bases loaded to end a game my junior year at Liberty High School. The pitcher had a really good breaking ball, which I swung at and missed for strikes one and two. I then sat back on the next pitch telling myself to drive the curveball to the opposite field…only he threw a fastball and I stood there frozen. Ouch. Embarrassing.
Imagine this woman “caught in the act of adultery.” What does that mean? Is she being pulled from the bed in the middle of the act directly to Jesus? Is she wearing clothes? Is she only covered with a sheet to spare herself a little dignity before the Savior? Any of us who have made a big mistake on the baseball field can connect with the adulterous woman in this moment - totally alone, totally naked, totally embarrassed.
How does Jesus respond? The Pharisees ask Christ to judge her and outlines the law of Moses, which would require this woman to be stoned to death. Christ writes on the ground with his finger (what could that have said???), and then speaks, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” What a shocking response! I mean, has anyone been with our sin? No. Has anyone been without error on the baseball field? No! Why then do we see coaches and dads and people in the game demanding perfection in an imperfect game? The lack of grace we extend to each other in the game of baseball is mind-boggling. Even more mind-boggling is the level of favoritism we show rising stars, and I’m as guilty as the next guy (but that’s for another time).
The Pharisees drop their stones and walk away. Only the woman and Jesus are left in the scene. Jesus doesn’t just give grace and let he go. He provides accountability. “Go and sin no more.” Admit your sin, it’s been exposed. Fix your heart and turn away from that sin through repentance. Don’t repeat this cycle. Imagine a coach coming up to a player after an error and going through the same cycle. “Hey bud, what did you do wrong?” “Yeah, I saw that. It’s behind us both now. What are you going to do next time?” “Sweet, I can’t wait for you to make the most of the next opportunity.”
I can’t be totally sure, but I think that’s How Jesus Would Coach.