“What do Lutherans believe about the ‘the Last Days’”?

Rev. Bond Haldeman

What is your favorite Bible passage?

Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (John 7:53—8:11)

My favorite Bible passage is the story of the woman caught in adultery, John 7:53— 8:11. As the footnotes of your Bible may indicate, “most ancient authorities lack” these verses, but, none-the-less, I would appraise it as an accurate and historical story about Jesus, even if not originally written by John the Evangelist. To say it another way, in spite of the textual issues, this is a story that conveys the authentic Christ.

There are many details of the story that can be highlighted, but there are also core Lutheran emphases. The first emphasis is on the sinfulness of all those involved, the woman, the unidentified man (who had to be part of this story if she was “caught in the very act”), and the crowd with scribes and Pharisees. This emphasis is demonstrated after Jesus’ challenge, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be first to throw a stone at her.” The crowd’s departure is a demonstration of Paul’s teaching that “all have sinned and fall short” (Rom. 3:23).

While the woman of the story is certainly mistreated by the crowd, she does not contest her guilt, whine, complain, blame others, or try to get away with her sin. She demonstrates true confession and contrition. She could have snuck away with the crowds, gone back to where she came from. But she remains, standing before Jesus, willing to receive his judgement. This is what repentance looks like. It is, finally, the only thing we can do before God, who, “through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all” (Rom. 2:16). Jesus said, “For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.”(Lk. 8:17).

If this story teaches us about our demeanor toward God (i.e., repentance), it even better teaches us God’s deportment toward us—forgiveness. I like this story because of its’ demonstration of God’s grace. In spite of the reality of her sinfulness, Jesus does not condemn the woman caught in adultery. It is not because of anything in her that Jesus forgives. It has to do with him. It is unmerited favor. It is grace. So, too, it is with us. We deserve nothing but condemnation, everyone, all of us. But the Gospel is that through faith we are freely forgiven by grace for Jesus’ sake.

And then, finally, Jesus calls the woman and us to new life. “Go and sin no more.” We are reminded that we are not to remain in our sins, even if we remain ever sinful. We are meant to respond to the extravagant grace of God with an equally extravagant change in our lives.


Yours in Christ,


Pastor Bond

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