Today, I am reading and commenting on John 8-9.
The story of the woman caught in adultery is not in the earliest manuscripts we have of the Gospel of John, so it likely was a later addition. Nevertheless it is consistent with the other things written about Jesus’ teaching and can teach us some useful lessons. Really the two prime lessons are closely linked. On the one hand, he tells the woman’s accusers that they are only qualified to punish her if they are not guilty of something similar. I like to imagine that after He told them this Jesus wrote in the dust various sins and as each person realized that they had done things which by the letter of the Law would justify them being where the woman was they dropped their stones and walked away. On the other hand, Jesus did not tell the woman, “Well your accusers are gone, go back to what you were doing.” No, He told her, “Go and sin no more.” The love and tolerance which Jesus calls us to have for sinners does not include telling them that it is OK to sin.
When Jesus tells the crowd, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” the crowds denies ever being anything but free. However, Jesus points out to them that when you sin you become a slave to sin. This is a basic truth which we all struggle with. When we sin we become addicted to sinning. The only way to overcome that addiction is to allow the power of the Holy Spirit into our lives where it will direct our behaviors away from that addiction. The Holy Spirit will fill our lives with good behaviors which will displace the sin. As we allow ourselves to become “addicted” to doing good we will have less and less time in our lives to be tempted.
I cannot leave today’s passage without writing about the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. In particular the contrast between the way the religious leaders reacted to his healing and his reaction. I know I have talked about this before, often, but it is one of those lessons about the Bible which my father taught me which still greatly influences my thoughts about God. The religious leaders questioned the man in an attempt to find something in his story which they could use to diminish Jesus’ role in his healing. Finally, they right out told the man that Jesus should not get credit for the healing because they knew that Jesus was a sinner (notice, they did not give any specific examples of what sins Jesus had committed, just declared that He was a sinner). The man’s response was, “Well, I don’t know anything about that. All I know is, I was blind and now I see!” When the man insisted that Jesus must be from God, the religious leaders dismissed his judgment since the fact that he was born blind indicates that he “must be a terrible sinner”. They never considered that the same logic which said the man must have been born blind because he was a sinner suggests that he was given sight because he had become righteous (I do not agree with the logic here, but the second follows the first). The religious leaders were so caught up in their own belief about how God acts that they were blinded to God acting in their midst. Let us ask God to open our eyes to what He is doing in the world around us.