August 4, 2022

Can You Tell the Difference?

By Glenn

Misdirection is a common technique used by con men.  Con men create a distraction that looks threatening, and then they use it to steal from you.  They could bump into you.  They could even have accomplishes who start a fake argument.

Con men appear often in the Gospels.  They did not like Jesus’ interpretation of the law.  Jesus used the law to lift people up: feed the hungry, care for sick, welcome the stranger and safeguard the prisoner.  The con men preferred a law that hurt vulnerable people.

 One of the best examples of this Gospel meme appears in John Chapter 8. 

“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.”

John 8:2-11

Here we have the classic con men.  Jesus was teaching about love, and the Pharisees wanted to discredit him by turning the people’s attention to crime and punishment.  They wanted to incite the anger of the crowd to punish the woman and reject the Gospel.

Poussin, Nicolas, France, Musée du Louvre,

Jesus, however, was not distracted.  He simply paused and started writing on the ground with his finger as the con men badgered him with questions.  Finally, he made a very simple statement.

“‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.”

“Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’  ‘No one, sir,’ she said.  ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

John 8:2-11

Who is the role model here? Jesus or the con men? The one teaching love or the many teaching condemnation and punishment? 

Both Jesus and con men heard the same scripture.  Both could cite it back and forth to each other.  They differed on how to live the words. 

These approaches to the law make a very practical difference.  Jesus’ way breaks the cycle of violence and abuse.  The con man’s way encourages violence and abuse.  Can you tell the difference when you hear a preacher or politician talking about the law?

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