Saturday, July 14, 2012



Few passages in Sacred Scripture as dramatic and compelling as  those in Saint John's Gospel in Chapter 8.

It is a pity that it is not made more familiar , not only on account of its drama, but because it shows us Our Lord and Saviour directly and analytically confronting and absolutely condemning the Jewish leaders of the people . It is also important for the clarity of Our Divine Lord's statements  concerning the Devil - a being whom the world to-day seeks to ignore, though it is so much in his grasp!

As always, it behoves us to pay close attention when Our Lord speaks, and, when He speaks so emphatically, indeed -  vigorously - we ought to concentrate most intensely.

The Setting

From the earliest days of Our Lord's Public Life, the Scribes and the Pharisees have been drawn in hostile fashion toward this Jesus of Nazareth, who began to come to notice in backwoods Galilee. They knew this region and its less cultured people. This preacher had made a mark amongst the Galileans , but what did that count? Those uncultured people were beneath consideration! However, the  preacher had reportedly been breaking the Sabbath discipline! So they sent men to report on Him. From there it had gone on. Up and down the area of Palestine they had tracked after him , even sought to question Him after some of His more "outrageous"actions . 

They became increasingly determined that this fellow had to be done away with! He had even created a severe disturbance in the Temple, disrupting trade in sacrifice animals and birds and making extraordinary statements. And, after all who was He ? They found he had no formal learning and now He was claiming God as His Father and in fact, equality with God. Of course he COULD NOT be the Messias, that would disturb everything! It would make uncertain the Chief Priests'roles, so expensively bought from the Romans, and incur the wrath of the Romans. It could result in utter disaster for the Jewish people yet again. 

No, No, No! They were determined to put a stop to Him and His popularity.They sent men to arrest Him. But, what was this!! Their men came back without Him and seemed to have fallen under His influence!

So now they were determined to have a final confrontation and clear grounds to arrest Him.No underlings this time, but senior men from among the Scribes and the Pharisees would set out to ensnare Him the very next day!


The letter of the Law was everything to them, and it was by this Law, that they would trap Him. It had to be this way, for nothing else was important enough! So they came to Jesus where they found Him again teaching in the Temple, and attended by a large crowd of people. Into the midst of this assembly, they dragged a woman caught in adultery. They pointed out that the Law of Moses required that she be stoned to death.

Would this ever-merciful preacher who claimed the power to forgive sins, claim to forgive her and thus be in clear breach of the Law?

But Jesus not only knew the Law , but also knew what was in their minds and in their hearts! He bent down and commenced to write in the dust of the busy Temple court. We can imagine their consternation - what was the fellow up to? We must remain on our guard! 

Sacred scripture telss us that Jesus wrote on the ground. It does not tell us what the Saviour wrote. But tradition has it, that he began to write the sins of the accusers. As they began to harass Him for the answer to their question , He stood and confronted them. He did not dispute the Law as they had reported it. Rather He challenged them - 

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."

 Simple, direct. The Gospel account tells us that one by one, the crowd so eager for justice for her, starting with the eldest, turned away and left. We imagine them, suddenly silenced, eyes avoiding those of Jesus and downcast, skulking away - their sport having come to nought! Jesus , left alone alone with the shame -faced accused asks her where are her accusers? 

"Has no-one condemned you?" 

"No-one Lord!"she responds. 

"Neither do I condemn you : go , and do not sin again".

How gratefully, but swiftly she must have departed the scene! We see the Mercy of God at work - the Law is displaced by the Word of God . "Lord"she had called Him not Rabboni /Master. She recognised Whose Presence she had been in.Her Faith had been rewarded.

Jesus , here in the Temple court, resumed His teaching which had been interrupted.

The days of His Public Life were diminishing and He was now speaking to the people with greater clarity. Here in Jerusalem and above all in the Temple precincts, were to be found very many highly educated Jews whose understanding of their religion was greater - unlike rough and ready Galilee, where He had taught mainly in Parables which He explained to His disciples.

It had been a long progressive process over the last three years to prepare them gradually for the fullness of Truth about Himself. Obviously, all at once from the beginning, they could not have borne it, would not have listened at all. But now He would begin to open the  magnificence of the Truth to them.

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