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 ~

 

David – Fighting the Giant of Jealousy

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Meanwhile… back to David.

We last left David standing victoriously over the slain Goliath. David has another giant to overcome—Saul’s jealousy.

Now at first, Saul was delighted with David. For the first time, he truly paid attention to David. Apparently, when David had come to play the harp and soothe Saul’s troubled soul, Saul didn’t notice or even know the harp player’s name. When David was going out to meet Goliath, Saul questioned Abner,  commander of his army.

“Abner, whose son is that young man?” I Samuel 17:55

This “nobody” soon became a “somebody.”

Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in his army. This pleased all the people, and Saul’s officers as well. I Samuel 18:5

The women, who gathered to greet the men when they came home from battle, soon changed their song lyrics. As they danced they sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” I Samuel 18:7

This little ditty did not escape Saul’s notice. How dare these women elevate David above the king himself!

Saul was very angry: this refrain galled him… And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. I Samuel 18:8, 9

These two emotions—anger and jealousy—will inevitably produce negative action.

… while David was playing the harp, as he usually did, Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin him to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. I Samuel 18:10, 11

We see how that anger and jealousy led to rage. When David managed to escape the strike of the spear, another emotion surfaced in Saul—fear. What is at the heart of Saul’s fear?

Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul. I Samuel 18:12

Ah, the lesson for us. Without the Spirit of God in us, we succumb to all those attributes of Satan—anger, jealousy, fear. We may have times of weariness, discouragement, or anxiety, but deep in our spirit, we know we have God’s spirit of hope within us—lessons I have internalized in this past month. It behooves us to keep our branches connected to our main vine, Jesus Christ. As we are strengthened daily, we can endure and find rest in Him when the tough times come.

On a personal note, (speaking of tough times) I had to change what I had written. Just today, we had to take my mother back to the hospital via ambulance. Congestive heart failure again. I’m scheduled for knee replacement surgery this next Monday. I would appreciate your prayer support as we try to discern God’s will and His timing in all this. Thank you, friends. 

~ Joyce ~