Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sin No More (John 8:1-11)

I was reading an old copy of my great-grandmother's RSV this morning and took note that 8:1-11 is not included in the main text (but it is included in a footnote). So, I grabbed an NIV and used it today. This passage contains the famous story of Jesus and the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees bring her before Jesus at dawn as he was beginning to teach his followers in the temple courts in Jerusalem. They question Jesus about the Law thinking that they might trap him. "The Law of Moses says we must stone such women. What do you say?" Jesus replies saying it is he who is without sin who should cast the first stone. When they hear this, they drop their stones and depart one by one.

More than once I have heard this scripture used as an argument against the use of church discipline. It is often accompanied by a reference to, "Judge not lest you be judged." But, this is not the case. These scriptures will never be in conflict. The main thrust of this text must therefore be a call against hypocrisy and ultimately a pronouncement of grace.

The closing line is the kicker, "Go and leave your life of sin." Jesus has clearly made a judgment about the situation. She has been caught in sin. He offers grace, forgiveness, as well as a call to repentance. Church discipline is nothing more than this: calling upon our brothers and sisters to repent and leave behind their life of sin. As Jesus said in John 7:24, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." In instances of known sin, we should not back away from seeking to encourage faith and repentance out of love and a true concern for others.

No comments:

Post a Comment