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Communion Meditations (2019)

 

Trap

John 8:1-11

Originally scheduled for March 31

It should not be necessary to state this, but things have changed so much in my lifetime that I feel it necessary. This communion meditation implicitly assumes that adultery is a sin. It is a very serious sin. In this passage we must remember that all the participants would recall that the Old Testament equates adultery with idolatry, which was punishable by death. The incident shows Christ’s love for his children, and his unique role as one who can forgive anyone. The Law taught us that adultery was wrong; it is our schoolmaster. Christ, on the other hand, is our Savior. It is in this conflict that we must contemplate communion this morning.

Let’s look at the trap itself first. In the preceding passages the Pharisees have assaulted Christ’s truthfulness, and then his humility. Now they assault his righteousness. Note that the trap is set in public. There is no sense of gently correcting this Jesus; they want him totally humiliated. You will often hear the question raised, “where is the man?” This is a trap. The trap needs bait. The pretty young woman is a much better bait than any ordinary man.

You are familiar with the story. Christ, in one of those actions we wish somebody had written just one more verse about, bends down and writes with his finger in the dust. There are many speculations as to what he was writing. But it is worth noting that there is only one other time in the Bible where God is pictured as writing with his finger. The net result was a set of tablets, called the Ten Commandments. Whatever he was writing, it caused the crowd and the Pharisees both to go away. The scene reduces itself to the sinner — and the Friend of Sinners.

Sometimes we have a similar scene in our lives. How do you condemn the sin of adultery without being judgmental to those who are outside the church? Perhaps the best way for us is to live such a life of purity and chastity so that we are unmistakable lights.

As we come to communion, we must recall that passing judgment is not always something which is forbidden. Paul says, “Who am I to judge those outside the church?” But for those inside the church such judgment is necessary. It is necessary for us first of all individually. Examine yourself and see if there is something within you which is wicked — and then repent. It often occurs that we have the duty to examine the rest of the church as well, or at least those who are closest to us. It is our duty to come alongside them and gently restore them to the right path. We are encouraged to do this in communion.

Communion is where the sinner meets the Friend of Sinners. It is where the Friend of Sinners shows his love for us in that he died as our atonement. Sin is still sin; adultery is still adultery; therefore let us repent, confess and then with gratitude partake of the body and blood of Christ, which heals us from all our sins.

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