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The Woman Caught in Adultery (Rabel)

(Back) Samaritan Village Refuses Jesus The Man Born Blind Receives Sight (Next)

This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture 28 given on March 15, 1976

John 7:53 to John 8:11, pp. 168-173 of transcript.

7:53And they went every man unto his own house: 8:1but Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 8:2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 8:3And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery; and having set her in the midst, 8:4they say unto him, Teacher, this woman hath been taken in adultery, in the very act. 8:5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? 8:6And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. 8:7But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8:8And again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. 8:9And they, when they heard it, went out one by one, beginning from the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. 8:10And Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? did no man condemn thee? 8:11And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more.

In verse 6 we have the only recorded instance where Jesus wrote something. And even there and even there he wrote on the sand where it would be erased.

Before starting to interpret the lesson, let's review some very important points: first, God as the principle of absolute good which does not change itself; second, absolute good is for everyone; and third, absolute good cannot include absence of any good qualities and in this case we are thinking of mercy and forgiveness. It cannot contain absence of any good quality. Absolute good cannot refuse forgiveness and yet how many people do believe contrary to this. One of the tragedies of religious history in this world is the belief that condemnation is a part of God. It stands like an ugly scar through the history of man's religious thinking. I once heard a minister saying, "A God that cannot condemn is a God I cannot respect." And this is still used as to persuade people to join certain religious movements. But truth thinking reveals otherwise; God is not somebody who forgives because if he was, then He would have to, at the same time also be somebody who condemns. There is duality and God in no way is duality. God is the very spirit of forgiveness. God is not something who shows mercy, God is the mercy that is shown.

Now, wrongdoing is something that only man can do. Man causes his own discipline and some forms of "wrongdoing" performed by man bring about their own forms of reaction which he calls punishment. In other words, the wrongdoing itself manifests on three planes of man's being; this is the law of manifestation. But man does not understand this, he feels the pain of such manifestation and thinks that something outside of himself is punishing him for his wrongdoing; not seeing the punishment as the result of the wrongdoing itself. While wrongdoing is performed by man at times, no amount of wrongdoing can ever make it necessary for anyone to be condemned, that is to be placed beyond the possibility or forgiveness or hope for improvement. This is what condemnation is, it places your thought of somebody or the person of somebody beyond the possibility of forgiveness or redemption.

This Gospel text surely is one of the most interesting incidents on the personal in the life of Jesus. The story itself is just so beautiful on many different levels of meaning but for our purposes we are going to concentrate on only one. We know that the word woman in the Bible symbolizes the emotional or feeling nature in every human being. Here we have a woman who has committed adultery being caught in the act and is now in danger of being stoned to death. The coming of Jesus Christ upon the scene results in her forgiveness and her and her return to freedom. Of course with that very important final admonition, "go and sin no more."

As a metaphysical symbol this woman stands for your and my emotional state after we have done something emotionally wrong or negative. Knowing that we have done wrong, caught ourselves right in the act of doing it and are now feeling in danger of the possible results. "I know I was being nasty and unreasonable, I even knew I was being that while I was being that but I was enjoying it, but now I am facing the accusers.” And where are the accusers? Also within us, conscience, guilt, regret, apprehension, shame, all these are the accusers. The accusers wanting to stone her. And these accusers stand for our own belief in guilt and the need to punish ourselves or invite punishment, the old hangover. The accusing tendency is still very strong in some of us. We think that just because we left the orthodox church and came into Unity, we left everything behind us there that wasn’t pure. That is not true. The crowds followed Jesus around and so many of the hangovers from your former level of awareness still crowd or follow after you and make themselves heard at various times.

Now, we can see ourselves represented in this picture of the story. We ask ourselves, how have I ever done anything emotionally wrong or foolish. Have my feelings gone very bad at times, has my negative emotionalism to say and do things which my intellect knew all the while it was wrong, but the emotions just carry me along. This is illustrated through the adultery of the woman. This is as common as anything you can imagine. Examples of this are when we say mean or bitter things even while realizing that we are going to regret it later, but what carries you along and makes you say it anyway? This is the adulterous state of the emotional nature or when we allow another person to influence our emotions in such a way that we begin to behave in unreasonable ways. One of the extreme forms of emotionalism is the enjoyment of making other persons negative. I tell you, there are so many experts at this little game that we don't call it that. If you catch yourself doing this, "go and sin no more." Don't enjoy making persons miserable. Whether we like it or not, our emotional nature plays this type of trick on us many times and we catch our own feeling nature in the act of enjoying its own negativism because there is something fascinating and alluring about negative emotions. We haven’t gotten over this, there is something very tempting, and alluring and exciting about negative emotions and sometimes this aspect of negative emotions appeals more to us than the danger of it.

The epitome in the Bible of the negative emotionalism symbol is queen Jezebel and she is described as very alluring, very influential, and the same thing is true of negative emotionalism. It is still very alluring, very fascinating to human mind and its present state of development but Jezebel was much more than just alluring and fascinating; she was also treacherous and extremely dangerous, and the only character that was really wise and rejected her, got it in the end, Elijah. But she had her end too, let the dead bury their own dead. Many persons are still in the stage where the alluring and fascinating aspect of negative emotions is stronger than the appreciation of the danger of it.

Student participation: Would you care to refer to excitement as an emotional state? How does it relate to negative emotionalism?

Ed: Excitement is usually a symptom or prelude of negative emotions. It is not in and of itself a negative emotion but it is symptom of something, vulnerability to the coming of the negative emotions. This is because excitement is what we call a high in the emotional sense and, let's face it folks, in human nature almost all highs are succeeded by downs. Excitement, seen for what it is, and kept in control and kept related to a divine idea is not dangerous, but if it is left by itself, negative emotions are attracted. But you can make your own invulnerability by always connecting your awareness to divine ideas, that will keep you safe and secure under all circumstances.

We should then recognize the plight of this adulterous woman as being an outer symbol of our plight when we have caught ourselves indulging in negative emotionalism.

Now the question is, should she be condemned or punished as the law of cause and effect says she should? The law of Moses says that we should stone her, so the letter of the law of cause and effect states that she has to have negative consequences. Or, should she be forgiven and made free? The accusers cry in effect but there is no question, there is no matter of choice here, we caught her in the very act. Haven't you and I caught our feeling nature in the very act of getting negative, unreasonable, spiteful? Have you ever had the realization that your emotional state was making you impossible to live with? We have all caught ourselves lying but we feel that since we have already started we must follow through, we seem not to have a choice. Have you ever caught yourself in the act of hurting another person's feelings and wanting to do so? So none of us should still be in the dark as to our part in this sort of thing. Now, the feeling, the emotional nature of each person sins, the adulterous woman appears in all of us at times but we are beginning to find it more and more easy to recognize her and to catch her in her act before she goes and hides herself. We are beginning now to become more perceptive about this sort of thing and to catch our nature more quickly when we perceive her in these kinds of acts. Even so we are going to still at times stone her but then we soon realized that this really accomplishes nothing. We are beginning to realize that there is a higher and better way available to us in handling such things about ourselves. We are beginning to realize the absolute futility of any sort of condemnation. In the book “Christian Healing” Mr. Fillmore unsparingly says, "in no way condemn, condemn nothing in any way, no condemnation ever, because it is totally futile.” Spiritual law speaking through Jesus Christ says "Neither do I condemn thee;" there is no condemnation in spirit, in Christ.

The accusers in the story stand for our own belief in attitudes about punishment for wrongdoing, especially wrongdoing in our emotional nature. These accusers felt themselves to be entirely in the right because that was what they had been taught by the letter of the law of cause and effect. So it is with much of own inner attitudes about having done wrong, to stone such, bombard your feeling nature with punishment, that would be guilt, shame, etc. Why is guilt still so alive, why do we continue insisting that wrongdoing has to be stoned. Why? Because Moses said so, the letter of the old law, the old tradition of cause and effect still says, revenge is the way, and revenge on oneself, and condemnation is a part of God.

Well, Jesus Christ says differently, Jesus Christ is a new voice, a greater voice, and the words of Jesus are not just the repetition of the old law of cause and effect. He quotes the old law constantly and then proceeds, "but I say unto you.." and gives a whole new dimension of what the old law had finalized. "You have heard, he says, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say unto you…” and then he gives a whole new dimension. Jesus speaks as awareness of a higher law, a higher truth. Truth cannot be passed from one generation to another. It must be grown into by each individual through his own efforts at conscious understanding. You can pass the letter cause and effect from father to son, to cousin, to uncle, but grace you can’t pass on from one person to another. Each person must grow into it individually, through his own efforts. So what the voice of grace says shall be done with the wrongdoing, whether the wrongdoer is ourselves or others? He says first, "neither do I condemn thee." In other words, Jesus is not here so much to tell us what to do about the wrongdoing but rather to tell us what not to do with it: "do not condemn.” The most unGod-like error any human being can perform in his mind is to condemn, that is the most unGod-like act a person can perform. It is, to place anyone, or anything beyond the possibility of forgiveness, believing that mercy must not be shown, to think that somebody is hopeless.

Then, Jesus continues his instructions when he says to the woman, "go and sin no more." When you and I think about sin, the chances are that we'll think about how often we've been wrong, nasty, foolish, and perhaps downright cruel or wicked. Do you think that any of these is any kind of surprise or shock to God? When we contemplate anything that we have done in the way of sin, do you think that this is something new or surprising to God? How shall we think about God in this respect? Well, let's not dishonor Him by leaving infinite understanding and mercy out of our concept of God.

Let's not insult God by believing that his Spirit is capable of condemnation because God is pure Spirit, and the forgiveness which God is speaks through Jesus Christ to our own mistake making emotional nature. "Neither do I condemn thee but go and sin no more." Do you see the difference folks between true forgiveness and condoning any wrongdoing? When is your point of contact with all Power? NOW. Now is your point of contact with all Power. If you really understand this, if you really understand this, then you are able to look at your past, especially your past mistakes in a whole true light, in a whole new light that you could not possibly have if you do not know that NOW is always your point with all Power. If you really understand this you will see that in the now is the power which correctly handles all part mistakes. Your point of contact now with all power will see something concerning future, and it is not going to be, "whereas since I can forgive the past all the time, then I have carte blanche to go into the future.”

Student participation: The ideal state would be never falling.

Ed: Never falling would be the Edenic state and that is pure instinct in which all is provided for you. That is not where we are. We are in the world evolving toward the Christ consciousness and pure instinct, pure subjectivity now is only a point of rest to which we go to rest and have relaxation in order to be able to emerge from it refreshed and renewed but think always in relation to forgiveness. Now is my point of contact with all Power. In that point of contact with all Power I forgive the past and its mistakes but with that same Power I resolve that my future shall be constant continual improvement. I will sin no more (to the best of my ability). But you make that resolution in the NOW and in this NOW you are one with all Power. So, Power will be given you to do that very thing to sin no more.

Text of the original transcript of p.168-173.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-05-2014