Monday 11 April 2011

Bible Book:

"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.'" (vv. 10-11)

John 8:1-11 Monday 11 April 2011


This is a very meaningful story, though it is marked doubtful insome older manuscripts. It is set in the context of a discussionabout right judgement, before and after this passage (John7:45-52; 8:12-20). The statement "you judge by humanstandards" (John 8:15) is earlier described as judging "byappearances" (John 7:24). This is a good definition ofprejudice: pre-judging, by appearance alone, without facts.

Jesus challenges prejudice.

A group of men bring a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesusand ask for his judgement. Their reasoning by Scripture andtradition is to "stone such women" (verse 5).

Their fingers and eyes are fixed on the woman.

But Jesus refuses to leer at her. He deliberately fixes his eyesand fingers to the ground. No evidence has been presented to him.The woman's appearance alone is being used to condemn her. Forexample, where was the man involved? Was he standing among thewoman's accusers?

Jesus did not readily concur with Scripture and tradition.

But familiar with tradition and Scripture, Jesus reflects deeplybefore speaking.

The nameless woman too looks at no one and looks down.

Jesus refuses to judge by appearance and without evidence. He asksall present to examine themselves, and anyone "without sin" (verse7) is to throw the first stone.

Jesus is shown to be consistent with his teaching refusing to"judge by human standards".

Jesus responds to the challenge presented to him in a public place,in the context of hostile threats to his own well-being. Yet ifprejudice is not challenged by even a single voice, injusticeprevails.

Jesus' words "do not sin again" (verse 11) are a reminder that thatour highest ideals are spoilt by our selfishness. Can we actwithout being selfish?

To Ponder

What steps can we take to act without beingselfish?

Identify occasions when you have witnessedsomeone challenging prejudice.

How do those in authority bring prejudice andpower together in practice?

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