Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Whatever Jesus traced in the dust beneath the angry gaze of religious bigots high on adrenaline, it helped Him sort out His response to the problem of a woman taken in adultery. Eventually looking up, He uttered a single sentence and watched the rules of the Sanhedrin decision-making break down —
“All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” – John 8:7
The older men, notables who normally reserved their power of veto until after the younger rulers and committed themselves, on this occasion broke with precedence and voted first. The thoughtful pause of a crouching Christ had ramifications beyond the expectations of furious critics and a sobbing woman.
When Paul picked up the theme of the ‘unknown god’ in the respected Athenian council of the Areopagus, he latched onto a basic anxiety among the Greeks. The apostle had chosen the right altar to take interest.
The Bible bears testimony to many simple statements, questions and deeds which acted on their audiences like today’s ‘passwords’ on computer programs. Christians are surviving, fighting, winning, losing rejoicing and suffering in towns on the western seaboard of Asia Minor at the end of the first century, and ‘angels’ mediate messages which touch the nerve of each community.