This week we continue the series using the Ignatian method of Bible study. If you have not already done so, we strongly recommend that you read the page describing this method in depth. It is a method that will require either a longer time than usual, or doing the readings over a period of several days. You will get the most from this method if you journal your thoughts, reflections and questions. The guidelines on the page offer further instruction.
As you prepare for this study, sit comfortably with your Bible and journal ready. Take a few moments to quiet your mind and focus your thoughts. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you proceed. You will be asked to read through the scripture several times. The instructions will guide you through this process.
STUDY OF JOHN 8:1-11
READ John 8:1-11 slowly. As you read through this first time, note the different players in the scene. Pay attention to the details of the story—where it takes place, the time of day, the circumstances at play. In your journal, record your first impressions. Note any questions that arise.
READ the passage again, this time from the perspective of the woman. Imagine her feelings – toward her accusers, toward the man she was with, toward the crowd, toward Jesus. Record your thoughts and insights.
READ the passage from the point of view of the accusers. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were the religious leaders of the day. They opposed Jesus because they saw him as a threat to their beliefs and way of life. They perceived sin as something that needs to be removed from the community—to be gotten rid of. As you read from their perspective, try to get into their mindset and the conflicting emotions they must have felt. How did they view the woman? Jesus? The crowd? Write your reflections.
READ these verses as a member of the crowd. During that time, stoning was a communal event. By law, the first stones had to be thrown by the witnesses who were making the accusation. Then, one by one, each member of the community had to come forward and throw a stone. The death was shared by the community, and no one person was held responsible for it. Consider what it would be like to be a part of such an event. Record your thoughts in your journal.
READ the story from Jesus’ point of view. In contrast to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus’ approach to sin is very different. How is his approach different? How does he respond to the crowd, the accusers, the woman? Write your thoughts and reactions.
“Christian forgiveness is at once an expression of commitment to a way of life, the cruciform life of holiness in which we seek to ‘unlearn’ sin and learn the ways of God, and a means of seeking reconciliation in the midst of particular sins, specific instances of brokenness. In its broadest context, forgiveness is the means by which God’s love moves to reconciliation in the face of sin”
(L. Gregory Jones, Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis).
JOURNAL any new insights you have received into your understanding of forgiveness. Complete your session with a time of prayer – confessing your own sins and asking for the power to forgive those in your life that need forgiveness from you. Thank the Holy Spirit for guiding you through this process.