Today’s passage is John 8:1-11. We’ll also take up John 7:53 as part of it. Let’s go!
John 7:53-8:1 (NIV) 53 Then each went to his own home. 1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
On 7:53-8:1: Why did Jesus go to the Mount of Olives? To pray. See, for example, Luke 22:39-41. This was an important secret to Jesus’ success: Jesus prioritized time praying to the Father. He would go out of his way to do so, and in so doing he experienced a peace, a power and a wisdom that the world could not give. As we like to say at Thrive, much prayer, much power. Little prayer, little power. No prayer, no power. Be a person of prayer and you will experience God’s power.
John 8:2-6a (NIV) 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him…
On verses 2-6a: While Jesus is teaching in the temple courts, the teachers of the law and the Pharisees bring in a woman who was caught in adultery. The Jewish law required that those who committed adultery be put to death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Yet the Roman law which governed Jerusalem provide that capital punishment could only be carried out by the Roman government. If Jesus were to tell the people not to put the adulterous woman to death, he would be seen as a Rabbi who violated the Jewish law. If Jesus were to tell the people to put the adulterous woman to death, he would seen as violating Roman law. Thus it was a trap, a set up. Another hint that is a set up is that the man who committed adultery with the woman is nowhere to be found, unless he had escaped.
John 8:6b (NIV) 6 …But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
On verse 6b: Refusing to play their games, Jesus bends down on the ground and starts to write on the ground with his finger. What was Jesus doing? Different scholars have come up with various theories on what Jesus was doing. Some think Jesus was writing down the sins of the woman’s accusers. Some think Jesus was writing down Exodus 23:1. We don’t know for sure. For whatever reason the Apostle John and the Holy Spirit did not think it was necessary for us to know what exactly Jesus wrote. In any event it is worth noting that just as the Ten Commandments were said to be written by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18), here is Jesus writing into the dust of the earth with his finger (v6).
John 8:7-9 (NIV) 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 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.
On verses 7-9: Jesus’ response was brilliant. Avoiding their trap, Jesus says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (v7) Since all of them recognized that they had sinned, no one could throw the first stone. What can we learn from this? Before you point accusing fingers and throw stones at others, take a good look at yourself. Also, realize that all of us are sinners who deserve death for our sin and that Jesus alone stands as the one qualified to judge.
John 8:10-11 (NIV) 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
On verses 10-11: Jesus does not condemn the woman, not because her sin was no big deal (which it was), and not because Jesus was not qualified to judge (which he is). Rather, Jesus does not condemn the woman because just a few days later Jesus would get up on a cross and, on her behalf and our behalf, receive the condemnation that she and we deserved for our sin. Because his death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin, we can say that “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). What a beautiful Saviour we have in Jesus!
Notice also: it’s not that this woman cleaned up her act first and then Jesus declared, “I do not condemn you”. Rather, Jesus first declared “I don’t condemn you” and then told her, “Leave [not live] your life of sin” (v11). The revelation that in Jesus Christ we are not condemned but forgiven leads us to live a life of pleasing God.
Thank You Jesus for being such an effective and beautiful Saviour. When I was caught in sin, You rescued me and You say You don’t condemn me. Thank You that I am free, forgiven, clean and saved because of You and what You did for me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!