If Jesus were to say that the woman should be stoned, as Mosaic law provided, the accusers could go to the Roman authorities accusing Jesus of speaking out against Roman authority and Roman law. In the alternative, if Jesus said the woman should not be executed, they could have accused Jesus of preaching doctrine contrary to the law of Moses.
In spite of the fact that there may have been no due process available to enforce the death penalty, the Jews of the time were not above using capital punishment, though perhaps without Roman sanction. In this context, therefore, the question of whether she should be stoned seems disingenuous. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. John b. Although no one really knows what Jesus scribbled in the dust, many have speculated about what Jesus might have written there. Rather than fall into the trap of simply answering their question and giving them something with which to accuse him, Jesus removed himself from the situation by drawing in the dust.
And by thus removing himself, the accusers became the accused. As Derrett pointed out, the fact that stoning was even an issue means there must have been at least two witnesses to the act. According to Baylis, Deuteronomy is another place where strict requirements are placed on witnesses:. Deuteronomy — If the witnesses had lain in wait in order to catch the adulteress in the act, they would have hesitated to emerge from their hiding place until coitus had occurred. At this point, they would have been unable to help prevent the sin of the woman. Also, not long after this time, the trial of the bitter waters was discontinued.
The explanation given by Rabban Jochanan Ben Zacchai, who lived at the time of Jesus, was that the Sotah was abandoned because adultery was so openly prevalent. While the temple-goers do not seem to have felt an obligation to be completely [Page 63] sinless, it seems they were at least convinced they had to be free from taint as regarding that which they were to testify. Finally, the image of Christ writing words of the law again reminds us of the respect Christ had for the law since it was He who, as Jehovah, gave the law.
And just as Jehovah wrote the words of the law twice, Christ wrote on the floor of the temple twice Exodus —4, And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. Perhaps the accusers were reminded of the then popular story in the History of Susanna as they dropped their stones and left. The elders threatened that if she did not accept their advances, they would accuse her of adultery.
Susanna refused to submit and was thus brought before the people to be accused and put to death on the false testimony of the two elders.
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The two elders then suffered the same death they would have carried out on Susanna. Since this story was well known at the time, 63 it is quite possible the accusers were reminded of the story either by what Jesus had said to them or by what he wrote. Clearly, capital punishment was not the issue but rather the competence of the accusers to carry out the punishment. If He meant to teach that stoning should no longer be practiced He could have said so and explained why. Instead, He focused on the procedure by which an adulteress would justifiably be put to death and reminded the accusers that the proper procedure was not being followed according to the law.
They could not argue with this point and so dropped their stones and left, one by one, as the significance of what He said and wrote in the dust began to sink in. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? It is frustrating to all of us how our system of justice sometimes allows the guilty to go free.
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It appears the Jewish system of justice had the same problem. The example Jesus shows us is one not of ambivalence toward or defiance of the written law but one of utmost respect. The law required that those who served as witnesses and executioners should be competent in their duties. She said, No man, Lord. It is significant to note that unlike other episodes with sinners see e. It would therefore be incorrect, as some have been, to cite this incident as an example of the divine forgiveness of God.
Instead, He admonished her to sin no more, mercifully allowing her time to prepare for that final judgment, which opportunity was not afforded her by the accusers. However, one reason seems clear at least: He did not condemn her because procedural requirements would not allow it. Jesus stands as the light of the world in many ways. Often, His example is one of love and forgiveness. While we cannot be certain of exactly why the accusers left, the words and actions of Christ clearly provided the impetus to their departure.
It is sometimes easy in the modern world to forget the importance of the procedural rules and safeguards of our own criminal justice system. As we in society pass judgment on the accused, we may find ourselves pointing an accusatory finger not only at those who are guilty, but also at those who defend the guilty.
To follow the example set in this story, we should be willing to follow the law both when it means the guilty will be punished and when it requires that the guilty are set free. Welch and Matthew L. Bowen for their valuable feedback. In contrast, Heil argued that there is strong linguistic and literary evidence that supports the conclusion that the story was original [Page 67] to Gospel of John.
Daniel B. Some manuscripts place the story of the woman caught in adultery at John , after John , or after Luke The story appears to have strong external support that it originated with Jesus, but it may not have originally been placed here in the Gospel of John or even to have been written by the author of the Fourth Gospel. Wayment, trans. Some evidence exists that may lead us to conclude that while the story may not have originally been in the Gospel of John, it may nevertheless be authentic.
While perhaps not original to the Gospel of John, there is some evidence that it may have been included in the Gospel of the Hebrews. This sounds very much like the story in John. In any event, there is reason to believe that the story was circulating among the believers fairly early and certainly before it appeared in the Codex Bezae. Derrett suggests that one reason the story may not have been included in some of the early texts was that it may have been offensive to some who would rather not give the impression that Christ was lenient toward sin.
See J. Charles P. Perhaps this is evidence of the authenticity of the story and of its correct placement in the Gospel of John. Some have challenged the authenticity of the story because nowhere else in John does the writer specifically point out that Jesus sat down to teach. However, instead of discrediting the story, the fact that sitting was the usual rabbinic custom makes the episode appear more authentic.
It might be moral failures or habits that have us discouraged. How does God want us to approach those areas? Is there a way to find freedom and real change? And I believe it can make a powerful difference in yours. When you hear the word grace, what comes to mind?
In fact, it is what love must always be when it meets the unlovely, the weak, the inadequate, the undeserving, and the despicable. God is willing to respond to need without reference to merit. It is unmerited favor. You just have to be in relationship with Him to receive His grace. If we have received Christ into our hearts, we have been declared His own, forgiven, and now under His grace. It is His grace that frees us and changes us. We are all aware that inside of us, we have a good part and we have a bad part. We have a part that we want the world to see—when we are on our best behavior.
And then we have a part we would rather hide—things we are ashamed of. We live in culture bent toward self-improvement. We spend a good deal of time and energy analyzing ourselves and trying to figure out how to make the bad part better. We go shopping or to the gym focusing time, energy and money on improving what we consider to be the bad part.
We think that we need to hide our bad part from Him. However, if we try to hide unacceptable portions of our personality, we can lose touch with our real selves and we can lose touch with God. God is not like this. His ways are not our ways. He sees us as a whole person.
No matter how much better you can make it, it will never be good enough, because I am perfect. Give me your good part and your bad part and let me make you whole. The law is like a mirror for us.
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The fact is, for the rest of our lives, we will always need a Savior. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but one who has been tempted in all things as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore, draw near with confidence to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We can experience grace when we come to the throne of grace, in truth and in humility. The whole area of food has been a difficulty for me most of my life. I would hide Hershey bars in my drawer. One time I had a whole pound cake under my bed. We had two hamburger places close by to campus. I can remember going to one and ordering a cheeseburger, fries and a coke and eating that. Then I would get in the car and go down to the next hamburger place and I would order another cheeseburger, fries and a shake.
I was too embarrassed to get that much food in the same place so I would get it in two different places.
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I want a cheeseburger, fries and a coke. Oh yeah, he wanted a hamburger and a coke and fries. And I would go out and eat it all. But I hid. And I lied. When I came to Christ, He accepted me as I was and gradually through the years there has been a measure of healing in the eating situation. Back then I was a compulsive eater and through the years the Lord has taken most of the compulsion away from me. But occasionally I will struggle, especially with my thoughts. The more I tried the less I could do.
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My friend Kay demonstrated grace to me as I humbled myself and told her the truth. And you know what? I found a new internal motivation and lost some of that weight. What the law could not do grace did. I fast twice a week.
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I pay tithes of all I get. And it is most consistent with common sense: for when we consider consensual sins of lust that lack any element of violence or injustice being inflicted on a victim, it seems absurd to classify those sins even if they are against nature as even remotely equal to murder or slavery. On the contrary, it is victims of systemic sexual abuse who have an obvious and indisputable basis upon which to cry out to heaven for vengeance.
If we wish to effectively evangelize our modern culture, we would do well to continue reflecting on these important distinctions. Aquinas, Summa, II. So the idea that the Hebrew ethical tradition viewed homosexuality as a-okay but rape as a no-no is simply wrong. But this teaching must be understood properly. The medieval theologians are claiming that certain kinds of sexual sins more seriously offend the virtue of chastity than do others. They are not saying that these sins are for this reason less grave as sins than adultery or rape, for instance.
After all, adultery and rape are very serious violations of the virtue of justice as well as being violations of the virtue of chastity. Thus, as a sin, rape is far more serious than masturbation or homosexual sodomy because it not only offends chastity but also gravely violates justice. This was a fascinating read. Thank you for this site, by the way :. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.
You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Active Exploitation It is perhaps somewhat shocking to observe that our modern moral instinct regarding consent has not always been historically common. Conclusion If we value intellectual consistency, it makes little sense to hold that the homosexuality of the men of Sodom cried out to heaven merely on account of being a sin against nature.
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