Contemplating Jesus

A SECOND CHANCE

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

 

Antonio Ciseri (1821-91) "Ecce Homo"

 

One of the most powerful scenes in the gospels is when an accusatory crowd and their leaders bring an adulterous woman before Jesus to test his verdict of her.   Claiming the Mosaic law of death by stoning, they wait for Jesus’ response while he writes with his finger on the ground  (ref. John 8: 1-11).  The silence must have been intense.  The woman’s life hung by a thin thread as she had no defense, having been caught in the act itself.  Jesus’ own mother, pregnant with him out of wedlock, would have been, without Joseph’s subsequent acceptance of her, heading dangerously towards the same direction.  Such were the moral precepts of their day. 

When Jesus finally spoke, he said, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”   Not a condemnation but an ingenious direction.  Jesus chose to point a finger at the woman’s accusers, indicating the inappropriateness of human superiority and self-righteousness.   The slow dissolution of the crowd, one by one, left Jesus alone with the woman.  He asked, “Has no one condemned you?” “No one sir,” she replied.  He said that he would neither condemn her. “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”  Jesus gave her a second chance, as he had all who had accused her and gone their way, no doubt humbled by the experience.

Jesus, whose only second chance, in front of the crowds and Pontius Pilate, would have been to trade places with Barabbas, stood also in silence. A man, whose compassion had saved so many, awaited a cruel death sentence. A solitary figure, he stood in solidarity with all those wrongly accused, for those who never got a second chance; he stood witnessing the misjudgment and errors of his human judges.  And he asked that God forgive them, “because they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

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