How Are We Handling Sin?

Callous , indeed, is the thought which is not touched by the moving word picture which one finds at the beginning of the eighth chapter of John's Gospel. May we not note, in passing, what gems of literary etching one finds again and again in the New Testament narratives? Often word artists of the Bible with a minimum of bold strokes, draw the most vivid pictures—stories ever fresh and inspirational yet sketched in the simplest language.

In the instance under consideration the stage is set in three verses for a drama about which volumes could be written. An unfortunate woman, a victim of sin, is brought before Jesus. Scribe and Pharisee, without doubt some of the community's most pious citizens, are plainly scandalized. They cite the law of Moses with its "eye for eye." They remind the Master that according to rabbinical decree, the woman should be stoned. Now what says he? One can almost visualize the self-satisfaction of the cunning plotters. What can this upstart teacher of a God of love and mercy say to this?

Here, as often. Christ Jesus does the unusual and unexpected thing. Apparently ignoring both the questioners and the question, he leans forward and traces words on the ground. Finally, in response to their "continued asking," he gives them a most un-looked-for reply. He says, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Then again he stoops down and mysteriously writes with his finger on the sandy soil. The theory has been advanced that Jesus wrote on the ground the secret sins of the accusers, and they, seeing their errors uncovered, "went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last."

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Where Does Value Reside?
May 27, 1944

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