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Advent 1, Year C–Luke 21:25-36

The gospel reading for the first week of Advent plunges us into the heart of some of Jesus’ scariest words, near the end of the Olivet Discourse. Jesus is teaching in the temple, in the shadow of his own cross. By the end of the week he will be dead. You can feel the weight of atonement in his words.

Several years ago I translated these passages, let me share them with you here again:

There will be a sign on the sun, and on the moon, and among the stars as well as upon the land.  The Gentiles will have anxiety over not knowing what to do, like a sound tossing the sea.  Men will have died from fear and the whole inhabitation of the earth will be waiting, for the power of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see ‘the son of man coming in the clouds’ with power and all glory.  Now, when these things begin to occur, you straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is near. And he spoke a parable to them, “You see the fig and all those other trees?  When it blossoms you see for yourselves and you know now that summer is near.  In the same way, when you notice these things happening you will know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly I say to you that this generation will not pass by until everything happens.  The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.  Watch yourselves, that you do not let wildness, drunkenness, and the cares of everyday life overtake your hearts in those days.  It will come upon every one of those living everywhere like a trap.  You must be awake at all times; praying that you will have the strength to flee out of all these things that are about to happen and to stand before the son of man.”–Luke 21:25-36

Let’s just pick apart what Jesus is saying in a literal way.

  1. Signs–some kind of omen– will be everywhere–sun, moon, stars and the land.
  2. People will be so afraid, that fear itself will kill them.
  3. The heavens will shake.
  4. The Son of Man will come from the cloud.

I can’t tell whether this is theology or science fiction. This is some worthy of blockbuster special effects. You can see why Christ-followers have struggled for years to imagine this as metaphor rather than literal activities. However, as I contemplate the text, it sounds more and more plausible.

Could a sign not simply be atmospheric changes? Pollution that blots out the sun at day and changes the color of the moon at night could be seen as a sign. The stars I find particularly fascinating as we, today, see far fewer stars in the sky than our ancestor because of light pollution. Then we think of the land. Has the land not changed? Is it not a sign that whales beach themselves, bees die off, and the forest burns constantly?

Then Jesus talks about fear and anxiety that leads to death. Perhaps he means heart attacks, strokes, or paralyzing fear. You know, the kind of fear that would rather die than keep on living. Just being honest, I can think of no better description for some segments of our society today than to describe it as afraid. Politicians make their living stoking fear.

Shaking heavens seems harder to explain, but not entirely so. The powers of the heavens are what is shaken. Maybe this is an allusion to the gods, the false gods who live in the sky. They are shaken because the cosmic order is shuffling. Another view might be a simpler technological idea: airplanes and rockets moving through the sky could be described as powers shaking the heavens.

Last, the son of man comes on the clouds. Perhaps he comes to put a stop to the shaking heavens, the fear, and to heal the land. This is an article of faith, that some day we will look up (maybe not me as odds are death will claim me first, but it will be people who have the same faith convictions I do from all over the world) and Jesus will be coming again to set all things right.

The great teacher says these words, and he sees the trepidation on his disciples face. So he tells them to not be like the gentiles, don’t be afraid. He tells them that when this stuff starts going down, their redemption is near (v. 28). Lift up your heads, he says (Ps. 24), because the King of Glory is coming.

The Lord then comes back with promises.

  1. This generation (the disciples) will not pass away until this happens.
  2. Heaven and earth will disappear, but Jesus’ words will not.
  3. Wildness, drunkenness, and everyday cares will consume peoples thoughts.

Let’s work backwards. The promise of wildness, drunkenness and the trap of being swallowed by the mundane is stated as a warning. Jesus expects his followers to be better than that. His words, which mean his teachings but also, I think, extend out to the entire word of God. Philosophies, political systems, the power dynamics of this world will all disappear but the way of God does not.

But the generation–it surely did pass away and here we are, yet remaining? How can such a thing be? The simple answer is this all began before the end of the week when Jesus was crucified and signs were in the heavens, people were afraid, and everything changed. But it was not the end of this transition, for a generation later Jerusalem itself fell in a great holocaust–and ever since we have lived in the tension between the times. It is the times we live in now when the wildness, drunkenness, and mundane seeks to swallow us alive, trying to make us forget that we serve a God who shakes the heavens and terrifies the world with his death defying love.

ADVENT WEEK 3: MATTHEW 24:15-25:46

This third week of translation were heavy on the parable side.  Earlier in the Olivet Discourse Jesus was rattling off statements, but now he turns toward parables or ways in which the end of the world will be like familiar things–seasons, weddings, and shepherding.  The reader must take care to recognize these are ‘likenesses’ and not ‘exactnesses’ of the way it will be at the end.

I have made some commentary on either the text or content.  These are found in bracket and italicized.  Note, the first reading on Matthew 24:15-31 has a parenthesis, but that is from the translation where Matthew reminds the reader that he should study what is being talked about.  It is usually translated “let the reader understand” but I find that rendering weaker than the obvious intent.

Matthew 24:15-31

Therefore, when you see the abomination of the desolation standing in the holy place, as spoken by the prophet Daniel, (the person reading this should study it), then those in Judea should flee into the mountain, do not even return home to get personal belongings.  Likewise, the one in the field should not go back for his coat.

But woe to those who are pregnant or nursing in those days.  You should pray that your escape will not be in winter or on a Sabbath.  It will be such great distress as has never happened from the beginning of the world until now.  Unless those days were cut short no one would be saved.  But because of the elect those days will be cut short.

If anyone should say, “Behold, here is the Christ,” or “He is over here,” do not believe it!  For false christs and false prophets will be raised up and they will give great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if able, the elect.  Behold, I have told you beforehand.  Therefore, if someone might say to you, “Behold, he is in the desert,” do not go out or, “Behold, he is in  a private office,” do not believe it.

Just as lightning comes from the east and flashes in the west so too it will be with the coming of the Son of Man.  Wherever the corpse is, that is where the vultures will gather.

[In verses 29-31 below, the Greek word ‘ouranos” or “heaven” appears often.  Sometimes the word simply means “sky” as opposed to “heaven” where God dwells.  It seems to mean, in this context, to mean “outer space” as well.  Keep that in mind.]

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will become dark, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from outer space, and the magnificence of the heavens will be rattled.  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of the sky.

Matthew 24:32-44

Now you must learn the lesson of the fig tree, when the branch is green and the leaves bud you know that summer is close.  Likewise, when you see all these things you know that the entrance is close.  Truly I say to you that this generation will not pass away until all these things happen.  The heaven and the earth will pass away but my words shall never pass away.

No one knows about this day and hour; not the angels in the heavens nor the son, only the Father.  For the coming of the Son of Man will be just as in the days of Noah.  Just like then, those days before the flood they were eating, drinking, marrying, and planning for marriage right up until the day Noah entered the ark.  They did not know until the flood came and washed everyone away.   The coming of the Son of Man will be the same way.

Two will be in the field, one will be taken and one left.  Two women will be grinding in the mill, one will be taken and one left.  Watch, therefore, because you do not know which day your Lord will come.

[Okay, I can’t help but give a little commentary on this one.  The comparison to Noah is telling in Jesus’ meaning, but the meaning is often lost on many believers.  This is one of the most common passages used to defend a ‘rapture’ motif but in Noah’s days, the ones who were ‘swept away’, a term analogous to ‘taken’ in the next verse were those punished and drowned.  By the same reasoning, Jesus is referring to all the bad things—the natural cataclysms (that is the GNT used for flood) such as earthquakes, famine and wars—that will be used to ‘take’ the people in a punishment kind of way.  Those “left behind” are actually the one spared this.  Somehow people have turned around the meaning to indicate those taken are the ‘blessed ones.’]

You know that if a home owner had known at what time the thief was coming he would have been awake and not allowed his home to be broken into.  By this you know to be ready because when it does not seem likely, that is when the Son of Man will appear.

Matthew 24:45-51

Who then is a faithful and sensible servant?  It is the one whom the lord of the house appoints to give food to the other servants at the right time.  Blessed is the servant that when his lord comes, he will find him doing right.  Truly I say to you he will appoint him over all his possessions.

[These verses have particularly powerful meaning to me as a pastor—a servant in charge of ‘feeding,’ metaphorically, the other servants.  “Lord, may I never take advantage of my position or the blessings you have given me.  May I never neglect the incredible responsibility you have placed upon me as a pastor.  Amen.”]

But, then if the servant should happen to speak evil in his heart, “My master delays,” and then he beats the other servants and even eats and drinks with drunkards this servants lord will come on a day and at an hour he was not expecting and that he did not know.  He will ten cut him off from his part and will appoint him with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:1-13

[The greatest challenge in translating this is the antiquated language and customs.  Trimming lamps and needing oil in the middle of the night for an arcane wedding practice is as alien to us as Martians.  It was tempting to translate oil and lamps as flashlights and batteries or even to translate the groom’s nocturnal group activity with his new bride (when you read it straight out in our cultural view the purity intended by the 1st century is turned into something which sounds icky) and a bunch of virgins into an invitation only after-hours party.  But to do this would do violence to the overall meaning.  Instead, it is incumbent upon the reader to know something of the cultural setting Jesus is addressing.]

The Kingdom of heaven then can be compared to ten virgins who take their own lamps out to meet the groom.  But five of these were foolish [the Greek word here is ‘moron,’ and it is one of my favorites] and five were thoughtful.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take oil for themselves but the thoughtful ones took containers of oil with their lamps for themselves.

The groom delayed and all of them nodded off and went to sleep.

But there was a shout in the middle of the night, “Behold the groom!  Come out to meet him.”  Then all the virgins work up and they trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the thoughtful ones, ‘Give us your oil because our lamps are going out.”  The thoughtful ones replied saying, “No.  There is not enough for you and us, it will run out.  It is better if you go out to the store and buy your own.”

While they were away to buy oil, the groom came and all those who were ready went with him to the bride and they shut the door.  The remaining virgins arrived later on saying, “Lord, lord, open up for us!”  The groom answered and said, “Truly I say to you I do not know you.”

Therefore watch, for you do not know the day or  the hour.”  [Jesus gave that last line is for Harold Camping and his moron followers as well as all the idiot Mayan 2012 doomsday people.]

 

Matthew 25:31-46

Now, whenever the Son of Man comes it will be with all the angels and he will sit upon his glorious throne.  He will assemble all the nations before him and he will separate them from one another just like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my father, for you now inherit a kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world because I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was an outsider and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in jail and you came to see me.”

Then the servants answered saying, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you something to drink, or when did we see you on the outside and welcome you in, or see you naked and then clothe you?  When did we see you sick and in jail and then come visit you?”

The King answered them saying, “Truly I say to you that insofar as you did it for the least of these, my brothers, you did to me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Go away, you who are accursed, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels because when I was hungry you did not give me anything to eat,  I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was an outsider and you did not welcome me in, I was naked and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in jail and you did not visit me.”

Then they answered saying, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry, thirsty, on the outside naked, sick, and in prison and then not take care of you?”

Then he answered them saying, “Truly I say to you that insofar as you didn’t do it for the least of these you didn’t do it for me.”

These will go into eternal punishment but the just ones into eternal life.

ADVENT WEEK 3 TRANSLATION

The third week of Advent focuses very heavily upon the repentance and baptism message of John the Baptist.  It was very exciting to translate Matthew, Mark, and Luke all telling the same thing but with slightly different tellings.  There are so many hermeneutical things which could be addressed in these passages–from the conclusion of the Olivet Discourse to the conversations about John in Matthew 11–these are theological rich texts.  For now, it is enough to translate them into what I hope is clear English.

Luke 22:39-53

And following on he traveled according to his custom to the Mountain of Olives.  The disciples followed him.  It was at this place that he said to them, “Pray that you yourselves do not go into temptation.”  Then he separated himself from them, about a stones throw, and bending his knee he prayed saying, “Father, if you wish, take this cup from me.  But, it is not my will but instead yours that must happen.”  And he saw angels from heaven strengthening him.  But, being in agony he prayed, straining so earnestly that his sweat was as clots of blood falling upon the ground.  He rose up from prayer and came to his disciples.  He found them sleeping from the sorrow.  He said to them, “Why are you sleeping?  Get up, pray, so that you do not go into temptation.”

While he was saying this, behold a crowd appeared and with them the one called Judas, who was drawing near to kiss him.  Then Jesus said to him, “Judas, you betray the son of man with a kiss?”  Then, seeing what was happening, those near him said, “Lord, shall we strike with swords?”  Someone among them struck the servant of the chief priests and sliced off his right ear.  Jesus answered, “Stop!  Enough,” he said.   He touched the ear healing him.  Then Jesus said to those coming upon him; chief priests, soldiers of the temple and elders, “Am I a bandit that you come after me with swords and clubs?  Every day I was with you in the temple and you did not seize me, but now is your hour, in the power of darkness.” 

Luke 22:54-69

Then they arrested him, led him and brought him into the house of the chief priest.  Peter followed at a distance.  Now a fire lit up the middle of the palace courtyard and people were together sitting there.  Peter sat in their midst.  But a female slave who was sitting near the light saw him and stared at him, said “You are one of those with him.”  Peter denied it saying, “I do not know him, woman.”  After a short time others seing him said, “You are one of them.”  Peter again said, “I am not.”  And as an hour or so passed on another one of those insisted saying, “It is true that you were with him, for he is a Galilean.”  Then Peter said, “Man, I know not what you say.”  Immediately as he was saying it the rooster crowed.  The Lord himself turned, looked straight at Peter and Peter remembered the words of the Lord, how he said to him that, “Before the rooster crows today you will deny me three times.”  He went out weeping bitterly. 

Those men in charge ridiculed and beat him.  Blindfolding him they asked him, “Prophesy!  Who is it striking you?”  And many other blasphemies they said to him.  As it became day, the elders of the people, chief priests, and the scribes gathered together and they led him to the Sanhedrin.  They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.”  But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe.  But if I should ask, you would not answer.  From now it is ‘The son of man sitting at the right hand of the power of God.”

Mark 1:1-8

Genesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ, son of God.  Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my angel before your face so as to build your road; a voice in the wilderness crying out, ‘You prepare the road of the Lord.  You make straight his path.”  John, the one baptizing, came preaching a baptism of repentance in forgiveness of sins.  And all the Judean countryside and all those living in Jerusalem went out to him confessing their sins and being baptized by him in the Jordan river.

John was wearing camel hair clothes and girdled with leather around his waist and eating locust and honey.  He preached saying, “One is coming after me stronger than me, who I am not worthy to stoop loosing the thongs of his sandals.  I baptize you myself in water, but he will baptize you in Holy Spirit.” 

Matthew 3:1-12

Now in those days John, the one baptizing, appeared preaching out in the wilderness of Judea saying “You repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  For this is spoken of through Isaiah the prophet saying, “A voice in the wilderness crying out, ‘You prepare the road of the Lord.  You make straight his path.”

Now this man John had on clothes of camel’s hair, girdled with leather around his waist, and his food was locust and wild honey.  At that time Jerusalem and all Judea went out to him as well as all the surrounding countryside and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.  And behold, the Pharisees and Sadducees were approaching near to his baptism spot when he said to them, “Offspring of serpents!  Who suggested that you flee from the coming wrath?  Therefore you do fruit worthy of repentance.  And, do not even think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as father,’ for I say to you God is able to raise up children of Abraham from these stones.  The axe is already now at the root of the tree to fell it.   Therefore, every tree that does not do good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  I baptize you myself in water for repentance, but behind me one is coming who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am unworthy to carry.  He will baptize you in Holy Spirit and fire.  The winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clean his threshing floor and gather his grain into the barn, and the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.”

Matthew 11:2-11

Now John heard from prison the works of Christ by means of sending his disciples.  They said to him (Jesus), “Are you the one coming or should we look for another?”  Jesus answered them saying, “When you go back to John report the things you hear and see:  Blind recovering sight, lame walking, lepers being cleansed, deaf hearing, dead raised up, and poor people evangelized.  Blessed are those who are not scandalized over me.”

Now as those departed Jesus began to speak to them about John.  “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?  A reed shaken by wind?  And who did you come out to see?  A man having been clothed in luxury?  Behold, those wearing luxurious clothes are in the homes of kings.  But who did you come out to see?  A prophet?  Yes, I say to you, and the greatest of prophets.  That place where it is written, ‘Behold, I myself will send my angel before you, who will construct your road before you,’ is about him.  Truly I say to you no one has arisen born of women greater than John, the one baptizing.  But a least person in the kingdom of heaven is greater than him.”

Luke 3:1-9 

Now in the fifteenth year of the hegemony of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate was governing Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee and Philip his brother was tetrarch of Iturea and that region of Trachonitus, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene.  Under the chief priests Annas and Caiphas, the word of God came upon John, son of Zachariah in the wilderness.  He went out into all the surrounding countryside of Judea preaching baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.  Just as it is written in the book of sayings of Isaiah the prophet, “A voice in the wilderness crying out, ‘You prepare the road of the Lord.  You make straight his path.  Every ravine will be filled in and all mountains and hills will be leveled, and it the crooked places straight and the rough places in the road smooth.  And all flesh will see the salvation of God.”  Therefore he said to the crowd coming out to be baptized by him, “Offspring of serpents!  Who suggested that you flee from the coming wrath?  Therefore, you do fruit worthy of repentance and do not even start saying to yourselves ‘We have Abraham as father.’  For I say to you that God is able to raise children of Abraham from these stones.”  Already now the axe is pointed toward the root of the tree.  Therefore, every tree not doing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into fire.”

ADVENT WEEK 2 TRANSLATION

Today I post what I translated last week in my Gospel Advent readings.  These verses are very dramatic, featuring the conclusion of the frightening Olivet Discourse, Jesus predicting Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal and the Lord’s Supper.  Curiously, the Gospel readings take a side trip away from Luke and over to John 8 for the “woman taken in adultery.”  Some of the horrorific language in the Olivet Discourse was hard to straighten out; but as always it was fun. 

Luke 21:20-28

But when you see armies encircling Jerusalem, then you will know devastation is near.  Then those of you in Judea escape into the mountain and you leave from her midst and also do not let those in other towns come back into her.  That day vindication of those cities will fulfill everything written.  Woe for those pregnant and those nursing then, for it will be a great disaster upon the land and wrath to this people.  And they will fall by the edge of the sword.  They will be taken prisoner into every nation and Jerusalem will be under the heel of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.  There will be a sign on the sun, and on the moon, and among the stars as well as upon the land.  The Gentiles will have anxiety over not knowing what to do, like a sound tossing the sea.  Men will have died for fear and the whole inhabitation of the earth will be waiting, for the power of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see ‘the son of man coming in the clouds’ with power and all glory.  Now, when these things begin to occur, you straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is near.   

Luke 21:29-38

And he spoke a parable to them, “You see the fig and all those other trees?  When it blossoms you see for yourselves and you know now that summer is near.  In the same way, when you notice these things happening you will know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly I say to you that this generation will not pass by until everything happens.  The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.  Watch yourselves, that you do not let wildness, drunkenness, and the cares of everyday life overtake your hearts in those days.  It will come upon every one of those living everywhere like a trap.  You must be awake at all times; praying that you will have the strength to flee out of all these things that are about to happen and to stand before the son of man.”  Now he was in the temple teaching in those days, but every night he came out and spent the night on the Mount of Olives.  All the people rose up early to hear him in the temple.

Luke 22:1-13

Now, it drew near time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread; which is called Passover.  And the chief priests and the scribes kept looking for how they might kill him, but they feared the people.  But Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve.  He went away to speak with the chief priests and soldiers about how he might hand him over to them.  And they were overjoyed and agreed to give him silver.  He consented to seek a good opportunity to hand him over apart from the crowd. 

Now, the Day of Unleavened came.  This is the day in which it is necessary to kill the Passover.  And Jesus sent Peter and John saying, “You yourselves go and prepare the Passover so that we may eat it.”  And they said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare?”  He said to them, “Behold, as you are going into the city you will meet a man carrying a jar of water to his house.  Follow him in.  If the owner of the house should ask, you say, “The teacher asks, ‘Where is the guestroom where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  Then he will show you a great room upstairs spread with couches where you may prepare.” So they went away and found it just as he said to them and so they prepared the Passover.

Luke 22:14-30

And when he came to the house he and the apostles with him reclined.  He said to them, “I eagerly desire to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I say to you, I will not eat it again until the time of the kingdom of God is fulfilled.”  Then, taking the wine cup, he blessed it and said “You receive this and share it among yourselves.  I say to you that I will not drink from now on of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And receiving bread he blessed it and broke and gave to them saying, “This is my body that I am giving for you, you do this as a remembrance of me.”  And the wine cup he did likewise after they ate the meal, saying, “This is the wine cup of the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.  Behold, however, the hand of the one handing me over is with me upon the table.  For now, the son of man will be taken away, as it has been appointed.  Nevertheless, woe to the man who hands him over.”  They began to discuss among themselves who from them could be going to do it when a dispute arose among them about who is considered greatest.  Then he said to them, “The kings of the nations rule and wield authority over people and they call them benefactors.  But with you it is not so.  The greatest among you will be the youngest and the leader as the servant.  For who is greater, the one reclining at table or the one serving?  Is it not the one reclining?  But I am in the midst of you as one serving.  You are those people who remained throughout with me in my trials.  I myself appoint you, just as the Father put me upon my kingdom, so that you eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and you yourselves will sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Luke 22:31-38

“Simon, Simon, behold Satan requests to sift you as wheat!  But I prayed about you so that you would not fail.  But when you return to yourself, strengthen your brothers.”  Then he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to follow you into prison and into death.”  But he said, “I say to you, Peter, before the rooster crows tonight you will deny me three times.” 

Then he said to them, “When I sent you without purse and bag and sandals, did you lack anything?”  They said, “Nothing.”  Then he said to them, “But now those having a purse, take it and the same for those with a bag.  The ones not having these things should sell his coat and buy a sword.  For I say to you that in me the Scripture saying, ‘And with the lawless he was reckoned’ is completed.  It is near realization.”  So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”  He said to them, “It is enough.”

John 7:53-8:11

And they lead off each one into his home.  But Jesus went out onto the Mount of Olives.  Again at dawn he appeared in the temple and all the people came to him, so he, sitting down, taught them.  But the Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman they had captured in the act of adultery and made her stand in the midst of the crowd.  They said to him, “Teacher, this very woman she was seized in the act of adultery.  Now, in our law Moses commanded such as these to be stoned, but what do you say?”  Now this they said testing him, so that they would have accusation of him.  But Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dirt with his finger.  As those remaining behind inquired of him, he gazed up and said to them, “The sinless among you should be first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped, writing in the dirt.  Those hearing this began to depart, one by one, starting with the oldest until the only one remaining was the woman in the middle.  Jesus now gazed up again and said to her, “Woman, where are they?  Do you have no one to judge you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  Jesus said, “Neither do I judge you.  Go.  From now on do not sin any longer.”