Two women caught in adultery and people wanted them stoned to death – as required by the Law of Moses. Indeed, adultery is so destructive of loving relationships and of families, it should be dealt with severely. But, as often happens, a good law can sometimes be a tool for injustice and oppression.
The first woman was the beautiful Susanna. Two elders, respected in the community, lusted for her and were coercing her to lie with her or they would testify she was with a young man. Susanna refused and the two lecherous elders succeeded in having her condemned to death. Daniel came to the rescue of Susanna and exposed the perjury of the two dirty old men, for which they were the ones put to death. The laws on adultery have been for a long time more severe on girls and women, reflective of the bias of a patriarchal culture.
The other woman was brought to Jesus, whom the people asked Him to condemn to death by stoning as required by the Law of Moses. Jesus refuses to condemn her instead challenges those without sin to cast the first stone and the accusers of the woman began leaving one by one. When left alone with her, Jesus shows her mercy and compassion and forgives her.
Simples stories but they cause me great discomfort. We are called and challenged to be good and yet, how often is the good used to oppress the weak and the defenseless? How often do evil men use good intentions to take advantage of others? How can our sense of justice be sometimes so severe and demanding as to destroy rather than build, as to kill rather than pardon and restore? How can some people so pervert what is good and use it for evil?
If this sound all so contradictory and against all reason, Christ has shown us the opposite to be also true. He turned the wages of sin (that is, death) around and used it to bring us to eternal life. He confronted the evil in men’s heart and melted it away with love. He took what people lusted after, like being first or living in comfort and luxury, and made these His lifestyle. He declared that the first will be last and the last will be first. And to those who would follow Him, He offered the way of the cross, not a bed of roses. And quixotic it may seem, it has worked. That is why I have chosen to follow Jesus.