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
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 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.