Story 2a - In the Brilliance of a Night
"Wow!" that's all I could say. I said it with such a sense of awe that it caused Steve to raise an eyebrow.
"My friend, there is hope for you yet," Steve grinned. Evidently he could recognize my predicament.
Maybe he didn't expect a fast and exuberant reply. I wondered about that. Maybe that would have been the wrong response. No one, who could measure the immensity of the kind of proposal that Steve had put forward, could have responded instantly, I was sure of that.
After a few more moments of silence Steve asked me to follow him upstairs to his study. The room was dark, except for two reading lamps that had been switched on from downstairs. He took a book from the book shelf. The entire back wall was covered with rows upon rows of books. He handed the book to me that he had brought and sat down by the window. The book was a leather bound volume of the Bible, a very old book, it was printed in English. He asked me to read 1st Samuel chapter eight.
I complied. I read about Samuel, a spiritually sensitive person who had counseled the Israelites for a long period, but Samuel had become old. So the people had asked him to give them a king. Samuel counseled against that. He told them that the king who would rule over them would take their sons and their daughters to be his servants, and would set captains over the people. He would take their harvests, their fields and their vineyards, and would demand that everybody serve him. Still, Samuel's warning fell on deaf ears. The people demanded to be given a king who might judge them and fight their battles for them. They urged
Samuel until at last, Samuel consented.
I gave the book back to Steve. As I was about to comment he waved me off. "Hush," he said, "I want you to read another story, first." He went back to the book shelf and brought another Bible to the table, a modern paperback version. He handed it to me. "Read from the book of St. John chapter eight, verse one to eleven."
I located the book of John, the chapter, but I couldn't read the requested text. It wasn't there. The chapter in the book started with verse twelve. I told him so.
He nodded and then asked me to read the title page of the book. The title page indicated that this was the study edition of the New English Bible published in 1976 by the Oxford University Press. I closed the book, and without a comment I gave it back to him.
He nodded approvingly, and without the lightest change in his expression he handed me the old leather bound volume once more. It contained the complete text of the chapter that I had been requested to read. I read the text. It tells the story of a woman who had committed adultery. She had been taken in the very act. The scribes and the Pharisees had brought her to Jesus for judgment in the hope that they might entrap him. The entrapment appeared to be
a sure thing. The law of the land, according to Moses, required the death penalty by stoning for the offense she had committed. 'But what sayest thou?'
the accusers demanded. They even demanded that he judge the woman, knowing full well that he, the renowned healer of the people, would never agree to the death penalty.
But if he didn't he would speak against the law of the land.
According to the story, Jesus acted at first as though he hadn't
heard them. Still, since they pressed the issue, he had to react. He looked up at them and suggested to all who were assembled, that whoever
of them was without sin should cast the first stone. At this point the story revealed that they were all convicted by their own conscience and left the scene, one by one. Neither did Jesus condemn the woman.
I put the book down.
"Why did they impose the death penalty for such a human act?" Steve asked. "Who or what did they protect with this cruel law?"