Monday, August 25, 2008

Writing on the ground

This week's Bible lesson is about Christ Jesus. All the years that I have been studying the Bible and reading these weekly lessons, if there is one thing that I have learned, it is that there is always more to learn, more to see. So whenever a familiar story or passage appears, I rub my hands together and say, 'Oh boy, this week I am in for a treat because I am going to see something I hadn't before'.

One section relates the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman dragged before him by the scribes and Pharisees. They almost seem to have planned this, just to try and trap him into condemning her to the Mosiac punishment of stoning, or going against the established law. So who were these men? The scribes were writers employed to copy the Scriptures, an arduous and fatiguing work. They simply copied the Word, but could not interpret its meaning. The Pharisees were interested in the holy text and teaching of the law to the minutest details. Neither group was noted for compassion. Both saw religion as being consistent with conformity to the law. Their decisions could be taken as binding. They added to the Word many traditions which Jesus did not consider to be binding as they did not come from God. They obviously percieved him to be a threat and hoped to incite violence against him.

So here they are, surrounding a cowering woman, demanding that Jesus pronounce judgment on her situation. How many times have we felt cornered by family, friends, co-workers, church members to make some decision, even to choose sides in an issue. What's touching me so strongly today is just how the Master dealt with this, a pattern for how I can deal with similar situations for myself or for those who call me for prayerful support.

Jesus must have recognized that it was not their business to accuse and judge the woman. They had neither the legal or moral right to interfere in civil disputes. I'm sure he was praying to react in just the right way. Writing on the ground was a symbolic action well known in antiquity, signifying unwillingness to deal with the matter at hand. Jesus was not taking responsibiliy for something that was not really his concern. He did not engage in an arguement. Things might have turned out differently if Eve had simply knelt down and wrote on the ground instead of getting into a conversation with the snake. But I do not think he was idle. We will never know just what he doodled on the ground. Considering what happened next it might have been names. He might have written out several of the Commandments. He might have listed a few sins. They should have taken the hint.

They continued badgering him. His next move is what interests me most. "...he lifted himself up." For me that means he turned to God in prayer, he elevated thought to see past the ugly picture presenting itself and looked to Divine Principle to see that only God's laws were in operation. To divine Love to bring healing to the situation. To divine Truth to only see the real man present. That is the perfect 'Step Two'.

Only then does he speak, inviting whoever among them was without sin to throw the first stone. THAT stopped them. Jesus again stooped down and continued writing on the ground. They were forced to look within themselves and did not like what they saw. They filed out, one by one, beginning with the eldest. Eventually only Jesus, the woman, and his disciples were left.

How lovely this next part is. Jesus again lifts himself up, again takes thought to a higher level for now he must deal with the woman. The text says, 'he saw none but the woman'. I always applied that to the fact that the angry crowd had dispersed, but it could also be how he continued praying about the situation. He saw no other woman there but the innocent, pure child of God. Wouldn't you love to be able to handle a situation that way! See no other person but the child of God before you. This next is also so important....where are those thine accusers? Where are those who would find you guilty, see you as less than the perfect reflection of Good? In reality, there is only God and His creation. Nowhere in that creation are they those who would find fault or plan some else's downfall or act in a vindictive way. The accuser never really exists for God fills all space.

She must have realized who stood before her because she replies to his question that 'no man' is there to accuse her. But she may have feared that he, being so much more, might. He gently takes that fear away. Neither did he condemn her. And since he had already declared that "I and my father are one" then neither did God condemn her. But for her part, she is to go and sin no more.

The lesson includes the Beatitudes and I will expect to gain something new and wonderful from those this week as well. I hope you will too. Be sure and share. I'd love to hear it.

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