WEEK FIVE•DAY SEVEN
When I hear that the accusers went away, one by one, beginning with the elders, I encounter the wisdom of mercy. I see the accusers deferring to the wisdom of Jesus. When I ask God to teach me wisdom, it is dangerous because it may require me to refrain from my typical pattern of punishing others or myself. It is dangerous because I am praying for an experience to gain wisdom, which will surely challenge me to grow and change. This work of transformation is painful. Christ’s way that we follow, being extensions of Christ’s mercy, is not just a feel-good story of positive self talk. The implications are huge.
How do we respond to people we think have broken the law—to people who have divorced and remarried, to people who have abused children, to people with addictions? Like this woman in the story, these people might expect to be “stoned” for their actions. It is no simple decision, but Jesus, as he does on several accounts in the Gospels, imagines a creative and inspiring third way forward. What is the third way you need to find? When all you see is either letting yourself and others “off the hook” or punishment according to the law, how will this story stimulate your imagination? The structures that upheld the law then still exist to uphold the law now. The structures are reinforced within us and within the wider Christian community. This passage calls us to pause for a moment, to listen to God’s voice of mercy, and to act from God’s wisdom in our inmost being.
Chris Morgan is in his second year of studies for the Master of Divinity degree at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. He grew up in Denver, Colorado, and graduated from Saint John’s University in 2011. His ministry interests include hospital chaplaincy, ministry in the outdoors and work with people with disabilities.