The past two Sundays of Lent must be moments of discomfort for Jesus’ followers a little more accustomed to justice. It is easy to focus on the sinner in each episode–they appear to be a main character. I find a closer look suggests it’s all about the audience where the Lord is concerned. In both Luke 15 and John 8, Jesus is sparring with Pharisees. So the story is about them. About sinners, I suppose. Just not the ones in the obviousl wrong.
Therefore the Lord did also condemn, but condemned sins, not (the person). For if He were a patron of sin, He would say, Neither will I condemn you; go, live as you will: be secure in my deliverance; how much soever you will sin, I will deliver you from all punishment even of hell, and from the tormentors of the infernal world. He said not this.
(The Lord) bestows on you space for correction; but you love the delay of judgment more than the amendment of your ways. Have you been a bad (person) yesterday? Today be a good (person). Have you gone on in your wickedness today? At any rate change tomorrow.
When the Lord is speaking to the ordinary person, not the Pharisee, not the self-righteous, not those filled with bloodlust, his preaching is more than consistent. And insistent that we make a rupture from our previous practices and embrace the good, make the change.
Image: painting by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, St Petersburg, ca 1900.