Answers to a key question

For the lesson titled "Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?" from October 1-7, 2012

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The question in this week’s Bible Lesson, titled “Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?” challenges us all. We are helped to answer “No!” using forgiveness and compassion. Understanding God’s allness, we have authority to dismiss temptations to believe there is reality in sin, disease, or death. Jesus’ examples, forgiving the woman taken in adultery, forgiving and healing the palsied man, and raising Lazarus, point the way.

Mankind’s concept of forgiveness has developed and progressed over the millennia. Before the Torah, a perceived slight against a family member could start a blood feud against the accused’s family, with many lives lost on both sides. “An eye for an eye” and the law allowing for those caught in adultery to be stoned, were actually limitations on the amount of retribution possible (see Exodus 21:22–25, Leviticus 24:17–22). You could no longer kill entire families, just those directly involved.

In the story of the woman caught “in the very act” of adultery, it’s not surprising that Jesus chose an alternative to the literal reading of the law (see John 8:1–12, citations 2, 4). The angry mob who brought the woman to Jesus had already taken a creative perspective on the law by bringing only the woman. The law called for both the man and woman to be stoned (see Deuteronomy 22:13–29). Jesus demanded that they examine themselves to see if they were skirting or completely ignoring other laws. His forgiveness reached beyond this woman to transform the whole concept of sin held by this community.

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October 1, 2012

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