The Trap Is Set – Part 3

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Our ongoing character, Mark, has been spurned and now conceives a plan to trap Apheima. (See “Gone Astray – Part 1” and “A Trap Envisioned – Part 2“)

He shares the details of his plan with one of the more vocal, angry Pharisees.

“So you see,” Mark concludes, “If the teacher says to stone her, we can let the Romans take care of him. They, of course, will not allow us to carry out death sentences, but we can blame him. And if he says that we should not stone her, we can say that he is going against the Law of Moses.”

“Excellent!” cries the Pharisee. “But how are we to set up such a scene?”

“Just leave that to me.”

And so, Mark proceeds with his diabolical plot. With a sly grin, he marches off to find a strapping young man who might like to have an exciting evening. Now I will give the Pharisees a counter attack, and at the same time, have a satisfying revenge of my own.

Mark has been watching for the last few days to see that the teacher gathers listeners in the same place at the Temple court. Mark knows the owner of a house nearby and asks if he might use his house that night. The friend agrees.

Mark has also been bating a young man with suggestions that Apheima has had her eye on him. The plan is to have the passionate young man meet her at this conveniently positioned house for the evening.

At dawn the next morning, the people have already begun to gather once again to listen to Jesus. He sits and continues to teach them.

Meanwhile, two assigned Pharisees break into the designated house and grab Apheima. (Of course, two witnesses are needed to make it legal.) They drag her out the door, down the street, and shove her in front of 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? John 8:4-5

Apheima stands there shivering in the morning dew with only a blanket wrapped around her. She stares at the ground, ashamed to look at anyone for she feels the daggers of their stares. Several Pharisees gather around with stones in hand.

Jesus pauses a moment then slowly stands to look at each Pharisee, one by one. He bends to the ground to to write with his finger. Mark stretches his head around the men in front of him to see what’s happening.

“What is he doing?” he whispers to his partner in crime.

“I don’t know.”

Finally, one toward the front asks again, “What do you say? Stone her or let her go?”

How will Jesus answer? Have they finally trapped him? Well, you probably know the rest of the story now as you’ve discovered who our unnamed woman is.

Next week, the rest of the story.

~ Joyce ~

 

A Trap Envisioned – Part 2

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

As we read Scripture, we don’t always think about all the people involved. Last week, (Gone Astray – Part 1) we left Mark making excuses to his wife and meeting, yet again, with a former lover. After their romantic evening, he was about to leave for home.

“Our time together should be worth something, don’t you think?” Apheima hinted.

Puzzled, Mark frowned. “Worth something?”

“Well, you wouldn’t want your wife to know about these little get-togethers, now would you? Three denarii should take care of things.”

“Why, you little slut…”

“Uh, uh, let’s be careful. Your precious elders at the Temple would be very disappointed in you.”

Mark’s temper flared, but he could see that he had been trapped. He juggled some coins from his money pouch and threw them on the floor as he stormed out.

How dark the night felt as he shuffled his way home—dark as the sin that hung on his shoulders. But more than shame, he felt anger. How dare her trick me in such a way. She will regret this. His mind raced as he tried to think of forms of retaliation, but his thoughts were merely a jumble of revenge with no clear action.

The days wore on. Mark made it a point not to see Apheima again. The money may have taken care of the threats but not his bitterness.

Two weeks later, as Mark came near the Temple, several Pharisees were discussing the preacher from Galilee who had gained quite a following with the people. The leaders had questioned him on numerous occasions, but every time the religious leaders set up a verbal trap, this Jesus caught them instead, making them appear weak and incompetent.

The next day, Mark observed the teachings of this intruder to the city.

Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them… You have heard it said, “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement… You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:17, 21-22, 27- 28

The intent of Jesus’ teaching went right over Mark’s head. Instead, the wheels began spinning in his mind until he had concocted a perfect plan.

Hmm, what is the plan? Stayed tuned next week for the plot to thicken! 

~ Joyce ~

 

Forgiven

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We’ve had an ongoing story the last two weeks. (See “One Unknown” and “Setting Up Traps”)

Apheimi is deep in sin and has devised a scheme to satisfy his revenge. He manages to get word to Marnah, his previous lover, that a passionate young man will be waiting to see her for the evening at a certain house. The house just happens to be conveniently positioned not far from where Jesus has been teaching.

At dawn, the people have already begun to gather once again to listen to Jesus. He sits down to teach them. Meanwhile, Apheimi and two Pharisees break into the designated house and grab Marnah. (After all, three witnesses are even better than the needed two witnesses.) They drag her out the door, down the street, and shove her in front of 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? John 8:4-5

Marnah stands there shivering in the morning dew with only a sheet wrapped around  her. She stares at the ground, ashamed to look at anyone for she feels the daggers of their stares. Several Pharisees gather around with stones in hand. Jesus slowly walks over to them and  looks each one of the accusers in the eye. Slowly, he bends down and writes on the ground with his finger.

Apheimi stretches his head around the group to see what’s happening.

“What’s he doing?” he whispers to his partner in crime. “

“I don’t know.”

Finally, one toward the front asks again, “What do you say? Stone her or let her go?”

Jesus straightened up and said to them, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:7-8

It takes a moment for the words to sink in, but one by one, three of the older Pharisees in the front of the group drop their stones and walk away. Then another and another. Finally, Apheimi’s partner drops his stone.

Apheimi looks over at Marnah. Her hair is all disheveled; a tear streaks down her cheek. For the first time, Apheimi is deeply aware of his own sin.

It is just as the teacher said. I held lust in my heart and acted upon it. When she used me, I didn’t feel shame; I felt anger. My anger turned to hate, my hate to rage and revenge. Had Jesus said the word, I would have committed murder.

Marnah is aware that only one is left. She glances up to meet Apheimi’s glazed eyes. He turns his head, drops his stone, and walks away. As he leaves, he hears Jesus say,

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” No one,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11

 

When we read this episode in the Gospel of John, we usually focus on Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. The accusers are there, but it is like they are a unit, not individual men, each with his own story.

Apheimi is a name I made up, but remember, someone had to arrange this confrontation. Had that arranger been one the woman’s victims? We don’t know. Did even one of them come away from this experience with a changed heart? We don’t know that either, but it is possible that just as the woman found forgiveness, maybe, just maybe one of the accusers eventually found forgiveness as well. I purposely chose the name Apheimi. It is a Greek word for forgiven.

~ Joyce ~