Friday, October 9, 2015

The Power of Forgiveness (Part 2)

Jesus and the woman caught in adultery 


In St. John's Gospel (8:2-11), an interesting thing happens and Jesus uses it as a teachable moment:

Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus looked 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 do not sin again.”

What was Jesus writing on the ground? Some biblical commentators believe he was writing the sins of the Scribes and the Pharisees as each of them spoke such as, "Usurer, Fornicator, Adulterer, Murderer, Thief, Blasphemer, Idolator, Irreverent Son, False Witness...."  One commentator quoted Jeremiah 17:13, "All those who forsake thee shall be put to shame; those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord." Maybe Jesus was fulfilling this prophecy? We don't know for sure, but I'd like to believe that after all the commotion had died down and the woman's accusers had left he wrote this word on the ground: "Forgiven!"

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