true story | John 8.1-2
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. John 8:1-2 | ESV
Meanwhile, Jesus made his way to the Mount of Olives outside the city. But not for long. Early the next morning he was right back at it in the temple. All the crowd flocked to him looking for more, and he obliged them. Having taken his seat, he began teaching them. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
I think it was Rob Bell who observed in one of his Nooma videos that the story of Genesis 3 (the snake, the tree, the fruit, the fall) is true not because it happened but because it happens – specifically speaking to those who get bogged down in scientific forays to determine the “facts” and in so doing miss the forest of truth in the story for the trees of verifiable historicity.
The story resonates because it is true to what we see and know in the reality we live in daily.
It’s what we do.
The same could be said with this week’s installment of the Gospel of John.
In most translations you’ll see brackets around John 7:53-8:11 setting it apart from the rest of the text with a footnote informing the reader that “many ancient manuscripts do not contain these verses blah blah blah.”
In what can be an unsettling revelation to some, the Bible is an inspired book and it is extremely messy.
There’s quite the lesson there in itself.
Inspiration and messiness go hand in hand.
Most of our efforts in apologetics are expended trying to explain away or contain the messiness as we chase the cultural “just the facts, ma’am” god up their tree rather than refusing to play the game and pointing people to a “more excellent way” – the end result being a salvation that rests more on verified facts requiring not so much faith as half a brain to just see the obvious, have your “duh” moment, say the prayer, and line the pews.
So, yes, we can dig deep into facts and textual criticism and manuscripts and Greek and ancient cultures – and that’s all good…and miss the Story.
Miss the Point.
There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that John 7:53-8:11 is a later add-on, an early later add-on, but an add-on, nonetheless. It breaks the flow of the narrative, the details don’t sync with what we know of the culture and times (Jewish believer Edersheim wrote that the whole thing is very un-Jewish).
But the story is so human. So true.
Whoever wrote it, wherever it came from, however and whenever it got woven in here, it was a true God-stroke.
It’s so what we do.
It’s so what He does.
It is so what happens.
Especially in temples of all stripes, brands, and colors.
Omitting it would be a crime.
It’s a disputable text about a disreputable woman, a messy story with a messy manuscript trail.
In other words, it has our name written all over it.
Time to hear it.
How do you balance the frequent tension between faith and facts? Which would you say is the primary influence or dynamic in your life? Why?
Abba, thank you for giving us such a messy book filled with such messy stories. Remind me that the book is not the destination or the point – but simply a transport, a conveyor ushering me into your presence, into your arms. And finding myself there now, let me hear the Story. Through Christ.