In John 8, Jesus was teaching in the temple when there was an interruption. I am so glad that is in the Bible. We’ve all had interruption moments! In this story, a mob interrupts the sermon by dragging in a woman caught in sin. Let’s see what we can learn from this story.
The Law and Adultery
The scribes and Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus (v. 6). The law of Moses said to stone the man and woman caught in adultery (Deut. 22:22). If Jesus opposed stoning her, He would be opposing the law and the Jews would turn on Him. If He advocated stoning her, He would be in trouble with the Romans who alone could execute someone. They thought they had Jesus in a Catch-22. The purpose of the seventh commandment was not to forbid something negative, but to protect something positive. For every negative there is a positive. The negative is thou shalt not commit adultery. The positive is thou shalt have a great marriage! Marriage is God’s plan not man’s. God created us male and female. Jesus affirms that in Matthew 19:4. Jesus chose a wedding celebration to perform his first miracle. The 7th commandment teaches sex outside of marriage is sin. The law focused on the action. Jesus focused on the attitude that leads to the act. Look at these verses in Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said, Do not murder… But I tell you, everyone who is angry will be subject to judgment… ‘You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (v.21-22, 27-28). God looks at the heart.
The Lord and Hypocrisy
Jesus waited before He responded. “When they persisted in questioning him, he stood up and said to them, ‘The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her’” (v. 7). He did not rush to comment. What a good example to us! We would all do well not to react and not jump to conclusions. When we start pointing out the sins of others, Jesus plugs up His ears and ignores us. We all have flaws. Don’t gossip about others or attack them. Deal with YOUR sin! We are all bent toward sin. Do not judge or criticize one another. Jesus does not bad mouth her or call her names. He called her “woman,” which was what he called his mother. The scribes and Pharisees did not care about the law. They cared only about trying to attack Jesus. Dead religion is devoid of mercy and grace. In verses 6 and 8 Jesus stoops down and writes in the ground with His finger. We do not know for certain what He wrote. Some say the name of the man. I think He may have written the other commandments to communicate yes adultery is wrong but so is lying, stealing, coveting, disobeying your parents. So go ahead, stone her, but with one condition, let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Only Jesus could have cast the first stone! We are all guilty of breaking the law of God (Ro. 3:23). We act like the religious leaders, but we are more like the woman. Jesus leveled the playing field making them admit their own sin.
The Light and Purity
“When Jesus stood up, he said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, Lord,’ she answered. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go, and from now on do not sin anymore’” (v. 10-11). This is a picture of repentance. Turn from going in the wrong direction and start going in the right direction. Legalism says, “Go and sin no more,” but does not say, “Neither do I condemn thee.” Liberalism says, “Neither do I condemn thee,” but does not say, “Go and sin no more.” Love says both! Legalism lifts up the standard of Scripture but will not lift up the fallen. Liberalism lifts up the fallen but does not lift up the standard of Holy Scripture. Love does both! Legalism hates sin but does not love the sinner. Liberalism loves the sinner but does not hate the sin. Love does both! Jesus is the friend of sinners so the church of Jesus Christ should be too. No one is beyond the grace of God. We are here for those that are not yet here.
Verse 12 says, “Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.’” Jesus said, “I am the light.” He shows us our darkness. Jesus told her to go sin no more, then He explains what it means to walk in the light and not in darkness. Jesus forced them to look inward. He exposed the darkness of their own hearts. She was guilty and ashamed. She was disgraced but Jesus met her with grace and mercy then He gave her a new start.
Too many times churches and Christians can be mean like the Pharisees. They focus on one sin and overlook their own. Condemnation says that was wrong and there is no way out. Conviction says that was wrong and there is a way out. Jesus is the way. Take all your sins, hurts, and mess-ups to Jesus. He will cleanse you, forgive you, give you a new start and say, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”