The New Law Inscribed by the Finger of God

“The New Law Inscribed by the Finger of God”
A reflection on John 8:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 
Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year C)
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

The new Moses wrote with the finger of God
A New Law in dust by the Spirit of God.

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”

They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

John 8:1-11 (Lectionary)

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 (RSV)

Moses, a type of Christ, received the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone on Mount Sinai, inscribed by the “finger of God” (Exodus 31:18; 34:1). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, imprinted the New Law of the Holy Spirit in Adam, the “man of dust.” 

At the moment of greatest tension in this confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees concerning the Mosaic law,  “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger” (John 8:6). The Greek word for “ground” () is the same word used to translate the Hebrew word adamah (ground, land) in the Septuagint version of the creation of Adam:

…then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

Adam and adamah are cognate words.

Jesus, the new Moses, wrote with the finger of God “on the ground,” in the heart of Adam, a New Law of the Holy Spirit and interior grace (Hebrews 8:8; 10; Jeremiah 31:31-34). 

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:33 (RSV)

The Spirit of Christ gave life to the letter of the law in divine mercy and charity.

…you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:3 (cf. Ezekiel 36:26)

2 Replies to “The New Law Inscribed by the Finger of God”

  1. Dear GMC, Today in Malta, Pope Francis underlined that God always forgives and provides a chance for a fresh start to those who approach his mercy. Thank you, GMC, for your reflection which sustains us in our efforts to approach God and to come to know his mercy. Such sweetness for our human hearts!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: