Jesus: Seated, Stooping, Standing and Shining
by Carol Mullen
Daily Lectionary readings for Dec. 10, 2014: AM Psalm 38; PM Psalm 119: 25-48; Isaiah 6: 1-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12; John 7:53-8:11
Both the Isaiah passage and the gospel passage for today start with Jesus seated in the temple. One temple is heavenly and the other earthly, but in both temples He sits with wisdom and authority to teach and cleanse of sin. As we sit at the feet of Jesus our sins are often exposed. No wonder during Advent and other times of the year we would rather be like Martha rather than Mary. Who has time to wait at the feet of our King as He peels back our filthy garments in order to receive cleansing and restoration? After all we are worried and occupied with a multiplicity of things. However, Jesus says only one thing is important and Mary has chosen that one thing.
Isaiah realizes, in the presence of the King, that he is a man of unclean lips living among others having unclean lips. In the gospel story the adulterous woman is brought before the seated Jesus and accused by the scribes and Pharisees. In both of these stories Jesus stoops down to cleanse the sinner. King Jesus sends down a seraphim from the altar with a flaming stone to touch the lips of Isaiah and removes his iniquity. For the woman caught in adultery, Jesus stoops down from His seat and with His finger writes on the ground. He then stands and says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Jesus stooped to write again and when He stood up the others had left and Jesus was alone with the woman releasing her from her condemnation and instructing her to go and sin no more. Jesus in His glory stoops down to bring cleansing to sinners; we simply need to be willing to receive His fiery love.
Both of these stories also contained stones. Isaiah’s lips were touched with the burning stone/coal from the altar to cleanse him. The scribes and Pharisees brought stones to condemn and kill the woman, but these stones never touched her. In the presence of the King we are set free. May we, when we feel the urge to condemn and kill another with stones of accusation, be like the older/wiser ones who were the first to drop their stones and walk away after hearing Jesus say, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to through a stone at her.”
2 Thessalonians reveals King Jesus coming again shining with flames of fire and with His angels to cleanse the earth and reveal His glory in His saints. As we come into His presence this Advent season may our prayer be that, “Our God would make us worthy of His calling and fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”(2 Thess.11-12)
Thomas Merton:” Our God is a Consuming Fire and if we by love become transformed into Him and burn as He burns, His fire will be our everlasting joy. But if we refuse His love and remain in the coldness of sin and opposition to Him and to other men, then will His fire, by our own choice rather than His, become our everlasting enemy, and love, instead of being our joy will become our torment and destruction.”