Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Morality Police v Jesus

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  St. John

So. There were these teachers of the law along with some Pharisees who were getting fed up with Jesus and how the people were hanging on His every word. Everything about Him was love, love, love, which was making them look bad, because they had none. As they had just caught a woman in the act of adultery, they took the opportunity to trap and expose Him as an antinomian: a man who was actually against God’s Law and, therefore, not sent from God. The Morality Police thought they could set Christ up for a fall. It’s not going to end the way they had envisioned.

“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?”

Jesus, apparently ignoring them, stoops down and begins writing in the dirt. The self-appointed Sherriff’s of the Kingdom are thinking they’ve got Him. “Answer the question!”

“Okay. Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

And He goes back to writing in the dirt.

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.

We have no idea what He wrote but it clearly hit them in the sol plexus of their consciences. I wonder if it was their offenses: maybe some that, under OT law, deserved stoning?

When you remain blind to your own offenses, it’s easy to carry around stones just looking for some sinner to whack upside the head. Self-righteous people are notorious for lacking self-awareness, for the hubris of behaving as if their souls are stainless, and for ignoring the hell their own behavior has unleashed on others.

Jesus wasn’t going to have anything to do with such a lynch mob.

After the yahoos scurried away, He was left alone with the woman. Standing up, He then asks, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” She replies, “No one, sir.”

 “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

People already know they are condemned. What they don’t know is that God has provided them with forgiveness and freedom in Christ.  

In my youth, unlike Jesus, I would have made the Pharisees eat the rocks. But not Him: He simply and gently provided a mirror with which they could see their own sorry souls. And what of the woman: at the very least, she deserved a strong rebuke, didn’t she? But there was no sermon about the wrath of God on sin, no monologue on the wickedness of her adultery. He didn’t even wait for “signs of repentance” before letting her know that He didn’t condemn her but He did want her to stop living this way.

St Paul wrote that, when we see someone who has fallen and can’t get up, we are to seek to restore the person, gently. (Galatians 6.1-5) This is assuming their lives are any of our business. When people are down and out, we are not to throw rocks at them, kick them while they’re down, or condemn them. As with Christ, we are not sent out into the world to condemn people, but to manifest God’s love for them by laying down our lives, so as to see them restored.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

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