A Woman Caught in Adultery
September 6 - Nº 249 John 7:53 – 8:11
By the time the sun set on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jerusalem was buzzing with controversy over the things Jesus had said and done. The Jewish people were beginning to believe that he really could be their Messiah, while the Pharisees insisted that he was a fraud. Instead of starting the long journey back to Galilee, Jesus spent the night on the Mount of Olives. Early the next morning, despite the conflict surrounding him and the fact that the Pharisees wanted to kill him, Jesus returned to the Temple courtyard. Many people gathered around him, so he sat down to teach them. Seeing this, the Pharisees and religious leaders laid a trap hoping that they could come up with enough evidence to accuse him of a crime. They brought a woman into the Temple courtyard and made her stand in front of the group. Then they publicly presented Jesus with a challenge: “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses commanded us in the Law to stone such a woman. What do you think we should do?” If Jesus had said, “Let her go,” they would have had a reason to charge him with violating the Law of Moses (see Leviticus 20:10). If he had said, “She must be executed,” he would have broken the Roman law which did not allow the Jews to carry out capital punishment. The Pharisees thought they had Jesus trapped. But Jesus ignored them. He stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger. (We have no record of what he wrote.) But the woman’s accusers kept on questioning him. Finally, he stood up and said, “Whoever has no sin, let him be the first one to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped back down and continued writing. Instead of passing a sentence on the woman, Jesus had passed a sentence on her accusers. They knew that what they were doing at that very moment was sinful. They had set up a scenario and trapped the woman. How else would they have had the two or three eyewitnesses required to accuse her (see Deuteronomy 17:6)? And why didn’t they also bring in the guilty male? Moses had commanded that he should be stoned as well (see Leviticus 20:10). Perhaps he was part of the set-up. Those who were standing there accusing her knew they were guilty of entrapment and fraud. Slowly the religious leaders who had brought the woman turned and left—one at a time starting with the older ones first. Finally only Jesus and the woman remained. Jesus stood up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Is no one staying to condemn you?” “No one sir,” she responded. “Then neither do I,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus was the only one there with the right to throw a stone because he had never sinned. However, he did not! But just because he refused to condemn the woman for her sin, doesn’t mean that he approved of it. He called it what it was—a sin. Then he challenged her to change her lifestyle.
It is not our role to catch people doing sinful things and condemn them. It is our role to offer them a reason to stop sinning by explaining how they can have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We must care enough to lovingly share the Gospel with them!