…but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
This passage of Scripture carries with it a note that the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53 – 8:11. Although most scholars are divided on the historicity (did the event actually take place in history) of these passages, it’s safe to say that they seem to closely follow Jesus’ teaching and, most of all, his wisdom and his mercy.
It does not seem out of character that the Pharisees would bring a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus to ask him to adjudicate this case, and perhaps trap him in his response. For some of us, this represents our behavior. We are very adept at pointing out the sins of others, and insisting that they be punished for their sins. For the rest of us, we are represented by the woman caught in the act of adultery. We have no defense and face a certain end which, in most cases, would end up in death by stoning.
Jesus is given two options, the first of which is to stone the woman. But this option would be in conflict with Roman law which did not allow the Jews to execute anyone. The other option was to release her which would make Jesus lenient of the law. Jesus does not fall for the trap but instead employs divine wisdom by showing men their true spiritual condition before God. They are totally depraved and in need of a Savior. He says, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” The accusers start to depart one by one beginning with the oldest first until Jesus alone is left before the woman. The lesson unfolds when Jesus asks the woman: “Where are they, has no one condemned you?” She answers, “No one, sir.”
What would our response be to such an action? As Scripture cites elsewhere, “All have turned away, they have together become worthless” (Rom 3:12). Whether we stand amongst the Pharisees or are represented by the adulterous woman, we need to realize that we all have been caught in our sin and need the pardoning act of our merciful heavenly Father. Our response must be to accept the unconditional love of God with a broken and contrite heart and leave our life of sin. Oh, believer in Christ, rejoice in the Lord always for He is good. Penitent sinner, praise the Lord for his mercies are new every morning.
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.