THE OPPOSITION – Jerusalem
The Feast of Tabernacles eventually ended after seven days of celebration. Everyday Jesus went to the courts of the Temple to teach and every day the religious leaders would send their people to pepper him with questions of the Law in the hopes that he would stumble enough to accuse him.
The chief priests and religious lawyers tried to trap him by getting him to break Roman law. They asked him if it was lawful for them to give a poll-tax to Caesar or not. Cornelius was worried on how he would answer. But then Jesus came back with an answer that stumped them and even amazed him. He asked for a coin. He asked, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?”
They answered, “Caesar’s.”
Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” [Luke 20:19-26 NASB]
In another day, Jesus was sitting on the bottom step of Solomon’s colonnade telling a parable to a group about forgiveness. Cornelius observed an angry mob heading their way. They were led by a handful of scribes and Pharisees dragging a woman by a rope tied to her wrists. A number of them were carrying rocks and stones. When they came close, one of the older Pharisees shoved the disheveled woman so that she fell in front of Jesus. She was sobbing in fear.
“Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act,” said the Pharisee who had pushed the woman. The others called out “adulterer… sinner!”
“The Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?”
Cornelius was no lawyer but he did know that Levitical Law stipulated that the adulterer and the adulteress together must be put to death. This was definitely a plot to discredit him. Jesus could argue this point but yet they can counter that the adulterer got away. They do however have her. He was concerned that maybe they have gotten one over Jesus. If Jesus showed mercy, and he will, thought Cornelius, they would accuse him of being above the Law. First discredit him to the masses and then they will have no fear of arresting him.
But Jesus was still sitting on that bottom step calm and no hint of concern. He stooped down and with his finger he started to write something on the ground. Cornelius could not make out what he wrote but he did note that a couple of the instigators looked nervously at each other. The other instigators goaded the crowd to persist on an answer.
Jesus straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and continued to write on the ground.
The whole crowd quieted down. The leader of the instigators, the one who looked guiltily at what Jesus was writing, looked at the rock he held tightly. He relaxed his grip and let the rock fall to the ground and quietly walked away. One by one they walked away.
Jesus stood and helped the woman up. As he was untying her hands, he asks her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
She looked around to find that the accusers were gone and said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus then said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” [John 8:1-11 NASB]
He and the disciples then climbed the steps and went into the shade of the columns to get out of the heat of the sun. Cornelius looked down at what Jesus wrote. Most of it was wiped away except for a partial sentence written in Hebrew, ‘Thou shalt not…’
The story continues on in my next post.
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