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The Adulteress

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Her story is scandalous, first word to last. And glorious.

At dawn, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees tarried by a nameless woman's door, itching to drag her out of bed and into the temple, where Jesus was teaching. Moments later, half-dressed at best, the woman was forced to "stand before the group," like Hester Prynne wearing her scarlet letter, cheeks stained with shame.

The words of the Pharisees were harsh, accusatory: "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery." This woman? Look, she wasn't alone in that bed. Where was her partner in crime? Sleeping in? Reading the Mount Olives Times? Since Mosaic Law insisted "both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death," how come they weren't both hauled into the temple?

Listen, the Pharisees weren't interested in punishing the man or the woman. They were after Jesus. And so they threw words at him, sharper than any rocks: "In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

Oh, great. If Jesus told them, "Stick to the Law: Stone her," his grace-filled teachings went out the window. But if he said, "No! Don't stone her," he opposed the Law of Moses, a dangerous move for a rabbi. The Pharisees thought they had him nailed.

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December02, 2008 at 9:28 AM

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