GSC 7th April 2019
Today`s Gospel reading, from St. John chapter 8, 1 -11, could hardly be more appropriate when we are looking at Jesus` relationship with sinners. Here we find that after teching Jesus had gone to the Mount of Olives after teaching in the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles. We see, on a number of occasions, that Jesus goes to the Mt. Of Olives for prayer and quiet, as he does to other remote places when he is in Galilee. The chapter begins by telling us that at dawn, the following morning, he went back to the temple courts where the people had gathered round him as he sat down to teach them once again.
Once again, a pn the previous day, the Scribes and Pharisees were determine to catch him out so that they could have him arrested. This time they brought a woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery, making her stand before the group that Jesus was with and then asking Jesus his opinion as to what should be done to her having, first of all, cited the Mosaic Code which required she should be stoned to death. Initially, Jesus said nothing but bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. After further questioning he stood up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” It seems that at least they had the grace to recognise their own sinfulness and so, one at a time, walked away from the situation leaving only Jesus with the woman. It is then that we see the generosity of spirit and loving forgiveness, and indeed, encouragement as he says to the woman, “Woman, where are they ? Has no-one condemned you ?” “No one, sir,” she said. To which Jesus replied, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
Another incident we find recorded in Mark chapter 2 with parallels in Matthew 9 and Luke 5 where we read of the call of Levi also known as Matthew, the tax collector, who following his call by Jesus is overcome and throws a banquet in the Lord`s honour inviting all his friends and fellow tax-collectors to come and enjoy the Lord`s company. We need to realise that tax-collectors, like Matthew, were often despised by their fellow Jews because they would have been regarded as traitors being the the pay of the Roman occupying power. Certainly Jews in positions of authority such as the Scribes and the Pharisees would have given such people a wide berth and would have despised them. So here was a great opportunity to catch Jesus out as he dined with them and so complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat with tax collectors and sinners ?” To which Jesus replies, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew had already accepted the call and had got up and followed Jesus. And there is too a hint of criticism in the way in which Jesus speaks to those who are judging others which concerns their own high opinion of themselves and their authority and self-righteousness.
So often, on the teachings of Jesus and his interaction with both crowds and individuals there are deeper levels to teaching that are present for those who have eyes to see and ears to listen.
Yet another wonderful story is that of Jesus with the Woman at the Well which we find in chapter 4 of St. John`s Gospel. Jesus having been in Judea with his disciples who had been baptising was returning to Galilee and, unusually for a Jew, was returning via Samaria for the Samaritans were despised by the Jews. Being tired after his teaching and journeying he sat down at Jacob`s Well at Sychar at the middle of the day, doubtless exhausted by the heat too. He had hardly sat down when a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well. He was alone for we are told that the disciples had gone off to buy food and Jesus asked her, “Give me a drink”. She was clearly overcome with surprise for her answer was, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans and to do so with a woman would have been taboo.) Then Jesus Answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is saying to you, `Give me a drink,` you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” She then said to him, Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water ? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus then continued, ”Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
The follows the episode where Jesus tells her to call her husband and she denies having one whereupon Jesus tells her that she has had five husbands and the man she is now with is NOT her husband and after more conversation Jesus, seeing her faith reveals that he is the Messiah in the words, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” It was at this point that the disciples returned from buying food and were very surprised, even scandalised it would seem, to see Jesus talking with this Samaritan woman and asked him why he had been taling to her. It seems she took fright because she went off back to the city leaving her water jar but also going to spread the Good News of whom she had met.