Lenten Devotional Series 2020: Day 34

Law vs. Justice by Chad Johns

The law is clear. Adulterers get stoned. What else could Jesus possibly say? It’s the “clear meaning of scripture” after all. He couldn’t possibly go against that or could he?

It was the law but it was not justice. Where was the man she was with? Why wasn’t he thrown to the ground before Jesus? Because this was a trap and she was the bait. She was vulnerable. Frightened. Expendable. Or so they thought.

Jesus knew the law. But more importantly, he knew the principles of justice that are the foundation of the law. Perhaps she had done wrong. Perhaps she was just a woman that men in power hoped to use to get what they wanted even though she had done nothing wrong because they saw her as without value. Perhaps, either way, Jesus took the path of justice. “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And when these bold, powerful men are unwilling to make such a claim, Jesus who IS without sin, says “Neither do I condemn you.”

“Neither do I condemn you.”

“Neither do I condemn you.”

“Neither do I condemn you.”

Justice is not condemnation, it IS restoration. It is fixing what is wrong. Jesus restored human dignity to the woman who was definitely NOT expendable. Jesus provided the consciences, which guided the crowd back to humanity. May he always do the same for us.

God, when we get bogged down in the law – for ourselves or for others – bring us back to your justice and mercy. In your name we pray. Amen. 

John 8: 1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.

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