Monday, April 03, 2017

The Lord Heard Her Prayer

The Lord heard her prayer. As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud: "I will have no part in the death of this woman." Daniel 13:44-46

But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So, he was left alone with the woman before him. John 8:7-9

God, you know what is hidden in our anxiety closets and are aware of all things before they come to be known by others. Send down upon me the perfect mercy of your Son so that we may turn away from our sins and allow the living water to flow from us.

These stories appear to be about two women allegedly caught in adultery. That may be, however, some of the lessons for us are from the words and deeds of the witnesses and the judge. In the case of Susanna, two elders cast the first stones. We are told that she was falsely accused by two who were eventually caught in the lie. In the case of the unnamed woman with Jesus, we do not know if she was rightly or wrongly accused. However, we do know that Jesus turned the tables on her accusers the same way Daniel did to Susanna’s prosecutors.

The Pharisees remain engaged in their never-ending quest to trap Jesus. Yet, for every trap they set, Jesus turns the tables and traps them. This set-up from Mosaic law is the latest: Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. (John 8:5-6)

What exactly did Jesus write that goes along with his questioning of the accused? It may simply be that Jesus was writing the names of the accused in the dirt. We’ll never know but we might get a hint from the Hebrew Bible. The Pharisees would have known very well this verse from the prophet Jeremiah (7:13): “Those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.”

Here again, we are confronted with the living water theme. This was a theme Jesus introduced when he encountered another woman – the Samaritan woman at the well. Just the day before, in a dialogue during the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jesus brought it up again saying: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’” (John 7:38). That statement also caused a stirrup in the town and set the guards off to visit the elders in the temple.

Whatever he wrote had the impact he sought. In the end, Jesus once again shows that his judgment is not by earthly standards.

You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. John 8:15

How are we trapped?  Are we trapped by what others think or are we trapped by our own words and deeds?

What stone is an obstacle in the path to our friendship with Jesus?  Did we put it there and refuse to move it?

What cloth binds us to our way of life and the ladder of cultural success – the appearances that we try to uphold?  Can we cut the cords ourselves or will we need the support of the community to break free?

What part of our ego forces us to stay inside when Jesus is calling us to come out into the light of his friendship?

In our last full week of Lent, know that if you pray to overcome these obstacles to God’s friendship, the Lord will hear your prayer, too.

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