John Day 15: Or or And

Today’s Reading
John 8:1-30

Bringing the Word to Life
Light a candle in a darkened room.
Reflect on Jesus, the Light of the World.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.” – John 8:27-28 (NRSV)

Extended quote by Richard Rohr from Subverting the Honor/Shame System
When Jesus was confronted with the dilemma of the woman caught in adultery, he masterfully leveled the playing field of the “honored” and the “shamed.” To the men accusing her, he said, “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7), and to her he said, “I do not condemn you; go now, and do not make this same mistake again” (8:11). What a marvelous consolation for people in all of history who have felt shamed or put down or defeated by others! Yet Jesus holds us to personal responsibility for our actions, too. This should please every fair-minded person.

At the same time, it was an opportunity for the self-righteous accusers to face their own darkness, their own denied and disguised faults. Hopefully they would learn from their ego humiliations. Truly holy people are able to embrace their failings and have no illusions about being better than other people.

Over and over and over again Jesus is tested, questioned and challenged by the Jewish leaders. This time they bring him a woman caught in adultery to see how he will respond. Jesus responds with grace, mercy, truth, and a call for new life (redemptive change). He does not condemn (grace and mercy) and instead instructs her to go and leave her life of sin (truth and redemption). He offers the Jewish leaders the same opportunity, but they still do not understand. Jesus recognizes his message and identity will be easier to understand after his death and resurrection.

I appreciate the fullness and balance of Jesus’ response. The situation needs both grace/mercy and truth/redemption. It is so easy to only give half a response when both are needed for wholeness and healing.

Jesus, your wisdom and ways bring the light of new life. You teach us the need for and instead of or– grace and truth, mercy and the call for change. Both are needed for wholeness and healing. Our first instinct is to cling to the dark corners of situations, responding with one extreme or the other, grace or truth, mercy or the call for change. If we only speak grace, we enable and deny your gift of transformation. If we only speak truth, it can become a weapon or a prison. We lable and condemn and lose sight of your mission to redeem. Shine your strength and courage into our lives that we may come out of the darkness of our ways and into the light of your ways. Make us more and more like you: so our every choice reflects the light of your love, so many are drawn to faith in you, so lives are changed (including our own), so you are lifted high in honor and glory, now and always, amen.

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

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