Monday, March 22, 2010

Continuing thoughts

Continuing on the thoughts from the previous post, Cheap forgiveness and the real thing, I'll first say that the post was inspired by discussion of the gospel read Sunday, the woman caught in adultry (Jn 8:1ff).

This morning I was listening to the radio and the discussion was about this gospel. The radio host spoke intemperately at one point of Jesus forgiving the woman; but that is not what is seen. Here's the gospel:

Jn 8:1-11 While Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more."
Setting aside the curious writing in the dust, it is clear that no forgiveness is offered here, only a deferral of judgement.

Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? [Ez 18:23]

But the Lord has not simply abandoned the sinner, but put into her heart the seeds of repentance, that we may follow her on the way to not only foregiveness, but a life in Christ. In one interpretation of the gospel narratives, see her drawn to this remarkable person Jesus here, and expressing her gratitude and finally receiving foregiveness here.

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