Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lent 2014: Woman caught in adultery

John 8:2-11
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Jesus does not condone the woman's sin. He very explicitly tells her to avoid it in the future. But He has an issue to deal with among her accusers, for they see her sin and think that somehow they are themselves exempt from judgment. Yes, the sin this woman committed is serious and is punishable under Mosaic law by death. But what sins are hidden within the hearts of her accusers? Whether their sins (and ours) are just as serious, simply hidden from sight, or whether they are seemingly less important, they are certainly numerous and grave enough for every individual present to realize their incompetence to judge the woman. If they are going to complain about Jesus' claim of forgiving sins (Mk 2:7), He chooses to turn the table on them and object to their claim of judging sins. They try to make an example of the adulterous woman to trick Jesus. He uses the opportunity to address the state of their souls, showing that those who hope for mercy for themselves must also grant it to others.
Have you ever felt inclined to throw some stones at someone else? The most helpful definition I've heard of "mercy" is "not giving someone the punishment they deserve". That individual you would like to throw the stone at might very well deserve the punishment. Yet don't you deserve to have a few stones thrown at you? Recognizing our own sinfulness can be the first step in showing mercy toward others. We walk away from the opportunity to give them what they have earned, knowing that we deserve the same punishment ourselves.

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