Read John 8:1-11; The event depicted in our scripture reading is a controversial one for a couple of reasons. 1) The most ancient manuscripts do not contain it. Many have come to the conclusion that it is not part of the original text of John. 2) Some see Jesus as being soft on sin because He sends this woman away unpunished. But the controversial nature of these passages is not my focus today. I am absolutely convinced that this depicts a real event in Jesus’ life, and we can see a more perfect picture of Christ by considering His actions here.
I. Jesus is interrupted. It is not common for a preacher or teacher in our assemblies to be interrupted in the middle of his lesson. (babies, or the lights going out) But, what if a group of people just walked right into the assembly while the preacher was speaking and interrupted him with a series of questions? And what if the questions were not friendly questions? What if the interruption was part of a plot to kill the preacher? This is the context of this event. (Feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem)
- John 8:1-5 – But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
A. Why did they bring this woman to Jesus? It was not because they recognized Him as a teacher or as a judge (though they called Him “Teacher” or “Master”). It was not because they needed some special judicial ruling. It was pretty open and shut by their own description.
1. This was part of a plot against Jesus. They wanted to catch him in a moral and political dilemma
- If Jesus decided that she should die they might accuse him of claiming power which belonged to the Romans– the power of life and death.
- If he decided otherwise, they would have alleged that he denied the authority of the law, and that it was his intention to ignore it. They had already made this charge about Jesus concerning his approach to the Sabbath.
2. John reveals in the next verse (6) that they wanted to find something by which to accuse Jesus. We are told 7:25 that the Jews were intending at this time to kill Jesus.
II. Two Types of People: There are several lessons we can consider in this event. An important contrast that emerges is the difference between Jesus and His accusers. Two types of people are displayed here. It is a story of users vs. redeemers. We may be able to see ourselves in these two types.
A. The Pharisees were users. It seems clear that these Pharisees were not interested in helping this woman in her sin, or even in seeking justice for the sake of God’s law.
1. They were simply using this woman for their own purposes. We might conclude that she had been used already by her partner in the adultery. One devastating thing about adultery is that it uses others to satisfy personal lust.
a. If these Jews were really concerned about justice and law, why didn’t they bring the man (She was caught in the very act). It was easy to take advantage of women is such circumstances, because they had very limited judicial rights.
b. Instead of grieving over her sin, they were glad they caught her. Her sin served their purposes. 1 Corinthians 13:6 – 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
c. “But she was a sinner; she deserved it.” It is easy for us to rationalize taking advantage of others with this approach. It implies that we do deserve to be treated well, and to treat others maliciously. But nobody deserves being used like this by others.
2. The Pharisees also used the Law of Moses to their advantage. Vs. 5 – Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.
a. Their use of scripture was selective and focused on their own agenda. It is the worst kind of hypocrisy to pretend to be concerned about the word of God, but only use it to further your own ends.
- Husbands must be careful not to use the word of God (on headship) simply to further his own ends. “God made me the boss, you have to do what I want)
- Elders can use the authority of scripture to “Lord it over the flock”. Those who misuse the scriptures in this way pave the way for rebellion and subsequent disregard for God’s word.
b. Many today use Jesus and the Bible to further their own cause. Politicians quote scripture, and business people attend influential churches.
3. The Pharisees used the people gathered in the temple. Vs 2 – put her in the midst of the people. They questioned Jesus before the crowd in order to intimidate Him, and make Him publicly look bad. (They also wanted to look good themselves).
a. Would these men have brought the woman to Jesus privately? They were not looking for true answers, they were grandstanding.
b. Men may say things before a crowd they wouldn’t say privately! Both politicians and preachers have done it. Preachers have said things in debates to an opponent that they wouldn’t say privately. They were grandstanding, using the crowd!
B. Jesus was a redeemer. In stark contrast to the Pharisees, Jesus did not act politically here. John 8:6-9 … 6 But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. NKJV
1. It is interesting to note that Jesus entire answer consisted of only one spoken sentence. He may have responded through what he wrote in the sand, but we cannot know what. Was it their names and sins? Was it the words of the law?
a. Jesus didn’t try to prove their reasoning wrong, nor openly rebuke their unfair question. He certainly could have done both. He did not bring up the death penalty restriction the Romans had placed upon the Jews.
b. His answer came right out the law itself. The law they claimed to be upholding here. Deuteronomy 17:7 – 7 The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you. In essence Jesus told them, “If you think it should be done…you are the witnesses…you do it…if you are without sin.”
c. At this point, they went away, condemned by their own guilt.
2. Why did Jesus answer as He did? Because He had a different motive than the scribes. They saw people as objects of manipulation to be used to further their own ends. Jesus saw people as objects of love who were in need of redemption!
a. Jesus was teaching a lesson. “He who is without sin…” Jesus was there to do what he was doing when he was interrupted. He was there to teach those who needed to be saved. What a powerful lesson He taught them. He taught them about self-inspection, and being concerned about our own sinfulness first. He taught them to apply scriptures consistently to ourselves, for the purpose of true justice.
b. Jesus also sought the woman’s redemption, John 8:10-11 – 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
c. Jesus displayed the true heart of God through extending mercy. “Neither do I condemn you” – He sets an example of forgiveness that confronts and contrasts the hypocritical judgment of the Pharisees. Jesus always wanted to show us the forgiving heart of God. (He also spoke more graphically about hell than anyone else).
d. Some misunderstand Jesus here. They think He is overlooking this woman’s sin, as though it was no big deal. Many would like to see God as this doting grandfather, who is lenient with the rules. But, Jesus spoke against every form of adultery. “Condemn” is used here of judging the woman with a view to putting her to death. He did not condemn her. John 3:17 – 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. There is coming a great day of judgment; we are in the day of mercy!
e. “go and sin no more,” as a call to a change of conduct that truly expressed Jesus’ assessment of her adultery. Jesus called the woman back to God through a call to personal repentance. He gave her another chance, as He has all of us.
f. Jesus also sought the redemption of the Pharisees. They went away convicted by their own conscience and that was the design of His answer. They were forced to examine themselves. They needed that for their redemption!
3. When James is exposing the sin of self-righteous judgment of others he makes a profound statement. James 2:10-13 – 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 for judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
4. The mercy that Jesus’ extends is not an invitation to irresponsible disobedience. Jesus calls for true repentance as the avenue that provides God’s mercy. But He will not despise the contrite heart.
Conclusion: I hope we can see that the real need everybody has is redemption! The woman, the crowd and the Pharisees all needed redemption. It is what you need. It is what your family needs. What are your real goals for your family? You can be a redeemer in the sense that you can seek the redemption of your family.
a. How do you view your wife? Is she but an object, a servant, an inferior? Or do you view her as a soul with spiritual needs? Do you seek to lead her closer to God?
b. How do you view your husband? Is he someone to manipulate? Someone who can be whined into submission? You can’t use him like that and pray for his redemption!
c. How do you view your children? Are you using them to live out your own life and fantasies? Are you a stage mother or grandstand father? Or do you see your children as young souls, en-trusted to your care by God, whose redemption is in your hands?
d. Don’t be a user. Seek the well-being of those around you. Seek a relationship with God. God gave this woman the opportunity to respond to mercy as it triumphed over judgment. You have that opportunity today.
From a lesson by Max Dawson