Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The woman taken in adultery - Part One

I am very intrigued by the format of this week's Bible Lesson. As we study the question it poses, Are sin, disease, and death real, we will be working with three biblical stories. What makes this lesson so different is the way that we deal with each of those stories as a two-parter. In each case something is being handled and forgiven or healed. Jesus heals the one struggling with sin, disease or death. He expands that treatment to those surrounding the individual and heals, forgives, redeems them as well. This is a strong reminder of how we are to be expanding our prayers beyond our own personal experience to bless the world.

Our Golden Text sets the tone for these healings. You should always begin your own prayers with gratitude, giving thanks to God for His goodness. He redeems us from our enemies and is merciful  to all.  Be sure to impersonalize the error you are dealing with. It is never someone, it is always just a suggestion from error, that big liar. So, is it real? No!

So today and tomorrow I will work with the account in John's gospel of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. John was probably an eye witness of what happened. A woman is dragged before Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees. She is accused of committing adultery. (notice they did not bring the man) She was only betrothed, not married, otherwise her punishment would not have been stoning but strangulation. This 'law' was obsolete by Jesus' time and this incident may have been a set up to force Jesus to make an unpopular decision. They refer to Moses' law and ask Jesus what should be done with her.  Should he order her death he would then be in trouble with the Roman authorities.

So picture the scene with Jesus at the temple surrounded by those who had come to him for teaching. Error often confronts us when we are taking time to listen and pray. How do you deal with it when you are suddenly confronted by those who want to discredit you or make you look bad? He had been sitting down to teach but must have stood up when the men came in with the woman. Now he stoops down and with his finger writes on the ground. He does not chose to interfere in civil disputes. Writing on the ground was a symbolic action well known at that time signifying an unwillingness to deal with the matter at hand. But they persisted. When they continued to badger him, he 'lifted himself up' and I'm sure we can see that as a spiritual uplifting, taking his thought to its highest level, turning to God for the right response. He simply says that whoever is without sin should cast the first stone at her. Then he stoops down and doodles again in the dust. What did he write? Names? Sins? No one knows but his words struck home and the men 'being convicted by their own conscience' went out one by one. He forced them to look within themselves and they did not like what they saw. He did not change their minds as we do not attempt to change the minds of those who trouble us. He simply dealt with the error.

Mrs. Eddy writes:  "A sinner is afraid to cast the first stone." (S&H 447) and "A dishonest position is far from Christianly scientific." Those accusers had much to think about after that and if it awoke them to their self-righteous behavior they could be redeemed and forgiven.

So Jesus dealt with the atmosphere surrounding the woman. Much as he would send away those mourning a young girl that had died on another occasion. He quieted the tumult with calm words and the anger and grief were removed so the healing work could go forward.

I'll be pondering that response today and tomorrow will share some thoughts about what happened next.  I love the verses from Psalms in this section as they point out that the law of God is perfect and that it converts, makes wise, rejoices the heart, is pure. We can pray to be kept from 'presumptuous sins' so they do not have dominion over us.

Here in Elsah we are working with the metaphysical theme 2012-2013: "Delight in the law of God" (Romans 7:22)  So I will be watching for evidence of that law of ever present good being in operation and available 'at all times and under all circumstances' so we can be lifted up to see that good.

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