July - 2016. Unnamed; taken in adultery

Unnamed. Taken in Adultery John 8 1-11


At the time of Jesus, the Jews had very strict laws.  There was a law for every small detail of life - when to wash hands, with whom one might associate, and so on.  If you broke the law, you would be punished in some way.  For example, if you had a casual partner out of wedlock, you could be put to death as per Leviticus Chapter 20 verse 10. 

With this in mind the Jewish leaders brought a lady to Jesus who had been caught with another man out of wedlock, and they asked Jesus whether they should stone her to death.  Jesus gave the matter some thought and looked as though He had not heard them.  When they kept asking, Jesus told them that the law said so, but the first stone should be thrown by someone who had never done anything wrong.

He then looked down and took no notice of them.  At that they gradually left the scene, until the lady was left alone with Jesus.  Jesus looked up and said, ‘Has anyone condemned you to be punished?’  She said that nobody had.

It was then that Jesus made a very important remark, which should be noted by us all today.  Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.

In our modern society, we are just as quick to condemn people to punishment as were the Jewish leaders to the lady. 

When someone abuses a child, or commits rape, or steals something valuable, the papers and the public immediately howl for punishment.  That is about as mindless as the people who howled for Jesus to be crucified.

Jesus gave us an example which, like many of His sayings, sounds daft.  Show kindness and understanding for people who do wrong.  That is not to say that we think it doesn’t matter.  Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more.  To many people it sounds mad.  But they are wrong.  To show genuine kindness and understanding has a much better chance of success than it does if you bung them away in prison for years with a lot of other equally disturbed characters, and treat them as worthless, unpleasant people.  We saw on television recently that a man had broken into several shops and trashed them just of the sake of it.  He was caught and sentenced to six years in prison.

We were not told whether anyone took the trouble to find out what was causing that man’s frustration or why he wanted to hurt the world.  I rather doubt whether anyone did take the trouble.  Could he have been taken somewhere safe, and shown kindness and helped to avoid such behaviour in future?

We don’t know whether the lady brought to Jesus did go and sin no more.  Obviously, if her kindly treatment had no effect, she would have to be placed in a situation where future offences were not possible.

If someone is ill, we don’t punish them these days, we keep them safe and try to help them.

If someone is so disturbed that they want to behave in an  anti-social way, they also need help and protection.

Not a namby-pamby, laissez-faire treatment but genuine disciplined assistance which shows our disapproval, but helps the offender to see how to avoid future offences.

It is probable that, if we did copy the view of Jesus, we should end up by not only changing the attitude of many criminals, but also saving society of lot of money.

Social attitudes change.

The woman would hardly be noticed as doing wrong in today’s society.

I’m glad that Jesus did not let her be stoned to death.

Eric Thompson


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