Friday, 3 August 2012

What did Jesus 'write on the ground'?Part2

When those who heard Him, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest to the last, and Jesus was left alone……with the woman standing in the midst of the onlookers.

I bet she was nervous!

Jesus had confounded her accusers who could no longer handle any further dispute with Him.   But what about her case?

It seems very clear that the accusation against her was a put up job, not least because the man with whom she was supposed to have committed adultery was not there…nor were any of the required witnesses to the act.

I suspect that the woman was paid by her accusers to offer herself as the accused….for the sole purpose of putting Jesus onto the horns of a dilemma:

1.      If He was the Messiah He must condemn her to death by stoning in accordance with Deuteronomy 22.22-24:
If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die….then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones ….

2.      The occupying Roman government had forbidden the Jewish
Sanhedrin from carrying out capital punishment. Therefore, if Jesus was to prove Himself to be Messiah by acting in accordance with (1), He would be committing a crime of rebellion against the occupying Romans, and would Himself be subject to the death penalty.

An interesting dilemma….neatly avoided by Jesus when ‘He wrote on the ground with His finger’ in accordance with Jeremiah 17.13:
Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, The Fountain of Living Waters.

Following the departure of His accusers, the woman now becomes irrelevant….or does she?

How did her accusers force her to lie, apart from paying her to do so?

Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’
She said, ‘No one, Lord.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’

The answer that Jesus gave to her confirms two points:
1.      She was innocent…and had not been ‘caught in adultery’. His statement of her innocence confirms that she was party to a put up job intended to test Him.
2.      His phrase ‘sin no more’ is a Hebrew idiom that means ‘keep the Commandments’.  It is clear that, although she had not been ‘caught in adultery’, she had, nevertheless, been less than honest!!

What could have persuaded her to be less than honest?

There might be a clue in the Psalm that was designated to be read for that particular week, the week of the Feast of Succot.

Psalm 25 has a particularly striking prayer in 25.16-20:
Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins.
Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.

Perhaps when she prayed this prayer, the LORD answered and healed her?  I hope so….

1 comment:

  1. I have found your take on Jeremiah 17 interesting, but your take on the lady's sin seems to be incorrect.

    Verse 3 (part of narrative) states that she had indeed been "caught in the act of adultery" even prior to the claim by the Pharisees, so it would seem quite evident that she had actually been caught. And Jesus never claims her to be innocent or not worthy of condemnation... just that He would not condemn her either since all her accusers have departed. First, she could not be condemned without 2 or 3 witnesses and all the witnesses are gone, and secondly Jesus did not come for the purpose of condemning the world but of saving it. He is merely saying here that He will not condemn her at this time, but that she needs to stop her sinning (next time she might not be so lucky and plus God does not will that we continue to live a sinful lifestyle and we cannot be saved if we refuse to give up sin).

    I am, however, giving your thoughts on Jeremiah 17:13 a lot of thought as I try to understand why Jesus stooped to write on the ground. I had always assumed it was just to appear disinterested or possibly to write their sins on the ground, but often Jesus did subtly reference the OT in ways we might not easily get like the first century Jews would have.