There’s a term being used a lot today called “fake news,” which refers to a false story with harmful consequences if believed.
Surprisingly, even in Jesus’ day, something like this was going on. Jesus was teaching in the temple, saying things the religious insiders didn’t like. When they sent in troops to arrest Jesus, the troops came back without him. “Nobody ever spoke like him,” they said. “You fell for fake news,” came the reply.
Frustrated by their inability to have Jesus arrested, the religious insiders set a trap. They brought to Jesus a woman they’d caught in adultery. The punishment for such a crime was stoning. What would Jesus do?
“Go ahead, stone her,” was Jesus’ shocking answer. “But the one who is without sin, you throw the first stone.”
The woman was guilty, but Jesus was the one they really wanted to stone. In shifting the anger of the crowd from the woman to himself, Jesus had taken an enormous risk.
After the crowd had left, Jesus told the woman, “No one has condemned you, neither do I. Go and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus saved her without condoning her behavior.
In a polarized world, Jesus continues to defy those who want to use him for their cause.
The religious leaders believed the “fake news” that they had a corner on the truth.
The woman believed the “fake news” that she could sleep with anyone she liked without consequences.
Jesus took both the wrath of the religious elite, and the pain of the broken woman on himself.
Jesus is always something else, something other, something more.