Caught in a Trap

John 8:1-11


It is a wonderful story – the woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus. It is a perfect binary and puts Jesus right in the middle of the trap. Release her and show disregard for the Law and for the moral ordering of society. Condemn her to death by stoning and show yourself inhumanly cruel. The scribes and the Pharisees must have been delighted. At long last they have him in a trap. The man who has an answer for everything will finally be struck dumb. What will he do?


Jesus bends down and begins to doodle, to write on the ground. Playing for time, clearly. Giving the matter some thought, obviously. Standing back, as it were, from the immediate pressure of the situation: A wise thing to do, no doubt. And then, refusing the terms of the argument, Jesus blows the situation wide open.


His opponents have brought to him a guilty party and the rigidity of the Law, but they have left out of the equation their own part in the matter. They have exempted themselves from any contamination with the issue. She did this. The Law says that. What is the conclusion?


Jesus refuses to allow them to be innocent bystanders, just waiting for the green light to go and collect stones. They must first of all put themselves firmly in the picture. They have a roll to play in this very human drama. They cannot be allowed to sit on the side lines or up in the gallery and pontificate from some safe distance.


Whoever is without sin can cast the first stone.


We are all in this. What happens in our world not only affects us, and influences us, but we for our part, affect the situation and influence the situation. So let us apply this to our present day issues.


As regards Ukraine, Putin is deemed guilty of aggressive warfare and there are laws about that. But we, too, have been aggressors in war and in recent times. We are not without sin in these matters.


So let us deal with one another, with justice yes, but also with some understanding of our common frailties, failings and offences.

We are not in a position to throw stones at anybody, and throwing stones does not help us in any way.


Time for us to write on the ground and think.


Brian Fahy

3 April 2022  



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