We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we take time to share our joys and concerns. Take some time to consider the last week. If you have any prayer requests, you can add them as comments on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
God Almighty, shine the light of Jesus into my life and help me make my way through this world of darkness without stumbling. Guide me away from any false light, and help me to find and follow Jesus' light. Use me to share that light with others so they can find their way home to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Today's lesson is on John 8:1-11, 56-59.
The first part of today's lesson occurred while Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles. This festival celebrated the olive and fruit harvests. It was also a time to remember deliverance from slavery in Egypt. As part of the festival, many people would live in tents outside the city to reenact the 40 years the Israelites had lived in tents while wandering in the wilderness.
The second part of today's lesson occurs while Jesus responded to questions from a crowd of both laypeople and Pharisees.
A Woman's Cause to Rejoice
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, probably as a way to be in his Father's presence. The next day, he went to the temple very early in the morning. The people gathering around him implies that they were primed to hear Jesus' teaching.
Our book points out that there is no information about how the woman was found in adultery, but not her partner. It also states that there many have been some double standards about the judgment of women and the judgment of men in this situation.
The Pharisees call Jesus "Teacher." This may have been done in a sarcastic manner, since they largely did not consider Jesus to have any authority to teach. It also may have put listeners on alert -- would Jesus answer as a learned teacher ought to , or would he reveal himself as a fraud?
Jesus responded with what the Old Testament law stated. Both men and women were subject to being stoned. But then Jesus asked the Pharisees what they said about the situation. As they questioned Jesus further, he began to write on the ground. We are never told what he writes.
Eventually, Jesus tells them that any of them without sin should cast the first stone. As much as the Pharisees tried to follow every letter of the law, they had all still sinned. At first the older teachers walked away, and then the younger, until none of them was left. They realized that they were all guilty of breaking one law or another.
Now, there are no witnesses to condemn the woman. Jesus sends her to leave her life of sin. No further information is given regarding the woman's repentance.
Abraham's Cause to Rejoice
Before this passage, Jesus asserted that the crowd's actions showed them to be children of the devil. Calling Abraham their father implies that, if they were really his children, they would react as Abraham did from God's promise that his own family would bless the whole world.
The crowd had a bad reaction to what Jesus had to say. Then, Jesus says, "before Abraham was born, I am!" We might recognize the "I am" as God's formula for self-identification in the Old Testament. In the gospel of John, we notice Jesus making frequent statements about himself that involve God's sacred name, I Am. When using this name directly for himself, Jesus is stressing his complete union with the Father.
The crowd then tried to stone Jesus. Leviticus 24:16 states that anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death by stoning. The crowd understood what Jesus was saying. They were unable to stone Jesus because his time had not yet come.
Jesus was completely within his rights to condemn the adulterous woman, but he chose to offer mercy with his call to repentance. Jesus could have refrained from revealing himself as I am, but he chose instead to make himself known. We certainly benefit from Jesus' self-revelation and his merciful call to turn to him. Considering who Christ is and who he calls you to be, what repentance is necessary in your life? What "stonings" will you divert because of your love for Jesus? What rejoicing will you spread?
Lord, we all have sinned and fallen short of your ways. Lay our hearts bare so that we might repent and sin no more. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
This week's benediction is from the New International Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Romans 2:12-23, 28-29.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.