Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 7, 2019

5LC19. Isaiah 43:16-21 & Psalm 126. The almighty God has done wondrous things for his people, parting the sea and destroying the army that set out to destroy his people. To form a people for himself he led them through the desert, giving them water to drink and food to eat. His people praise him for the great things he did for them by leading them out of captivity from both Egypt and Babylon. They come back rejoicing. God saved his People!

John 8:1-11. The Pharisees and scribes brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery so that they could test him. If he agreed that she should be stoned, then he could be brought before the Roman authorities who forbade executions without their permission. On the other hand, if Jesus refused to allow her to be stoned to death, he could be brought before the Jewish authorities for disobeying what Moses had prescribed. The genius of Jesus is that he put the decision right back into their hands with the stipulation that “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” That put the onus on each individual to declare by his action that he was without sin. That community of Jews knew one another well enough so as to know who was innocent and who was not among them. What Jesus wrote on the ground is not stated but I think we can guess that he wrote things that challenged their innocence. So they all left one by one. John the Evangelist often uses language on two levels of meaning, literally and figuratively or metaphorically. Here perhaps he is using the phrase “Jesus bent down” to say he went down to the lower level to deal with sin and then “Jesus straightened up” to say he went up to a higher level to raise the standards to a higher level that is virtue. The adulterous woman is sent off to live at that higher level. Jesus said in John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

Philippians 3:8-14. Paul’s expression of his personal faith is a wonderful summary of what we should all be living for. Paul has come to know the invisible Jesus both personally and spiritually. Now living his life in Christ, anything else in this world that is not in tune with that relationship with Jesus feels to him to be just “so much rubbish.” Paul seems to me to be saying: ‘I am nothing if Christ is not my life; I have everything’ “since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.” In many of his epistles Paul reflects a rejection of the kind of religious life that many of the Jews seem to have had in his day that made the rituals and regulations of the Law to be as a god for them without actively having God himself as the supreme ruler of their lives. However, as long as we are in this world, the struggle is not finished. Paul writes, ‘I am’ “straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, Christ Jesus.” Let us join him! As for the adulterous woman and Paul, Christ Jesus is our eternal salvation.