John 8:1-11, NIV

2 At dawn Jesus 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. But Jesus bent down and started to write
on the ground with his finger. 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. 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."


July 16, 2011
Life's decisions are a gamble. If you treat someone with mercy and
kindness, will they repay you by living a life worthy of your mercy and
kindness? Or will they betray your trust and make you regret your
decision?

Another dilemma in this text - If only the sinless may throw stones,
there would be no stone throwing and anybody could get away with
breaking all of God's ordinances.

I get the feeling as I read this story that Jesus did not like the position
he was in. Clearly he did not want this woman to be stoned to death.
On the other hand, she was guilty as charged and the law of Moses
is absolute, "You shall not commit adultery. . . . "

Of greater importance to Jesus than the two issues I raised, is the
attitude and motives of this woman's accusers. And where is her
partner in crime? There is something more shameful than adultery
going on here.

Jesus wrote in the dust on the ground. That gave the bystanders time
to assess the integrity and fairness of the charge. Then he defused the
situation with one very clear and straight forward reply. There would be
no stone throwing today. The woman received no condemnation from
Jesus, only the command to not do it again. Did anyone get what they
deserved in this story?


                                                                                   More journal entries


August 11, 1983
A night on the Mount of Olives gave Jesus a renewed desire to teach
the people of Jerusalem, so he returned again to the temple courtyard.
But the next verse says he was interrupted. The scribes and Pharisees
thought they had something more important to talk about.

For Jesus to have obeyed the Mosaic Law, would he have had to
participate in stoning this woman? Obviously she had engaged in sin.
But these Jewish scholars and Pharisees were not clean either, which
adds to the dilemma. Here they are, one sinner condemning another
sinner for breaking God's laws.

It's easy to see their sins. The scribes and Pharisees were selfish and
self-centered, arrogant toward the people Jesus was teaching. They
were insensitive and lacked compassion toward the woman. They did
not practice the Golden Rule. They did not come to Jesus to learn or
be instructed, they wanted to trap him and find some solid grounds for
a trial. They were using this woman to help them get rid of Jesus. Of
course the man involved with this woman isn't accused. This case
pits the powerful against the powerless.


August 12, 1983
Although Jesus didn't give in to the passions of the body or the need
to receive human love and comfort, he did have compassion on those
who did. Did he understand that loving another individual can feel so
good and so right to the point that a person becomes blind to the
rightness and wrongness of their acts? It's not hard to lose sight of
previous commitments and values.


August 18, 1983
Getting caught in any misconduct is embarrassing. You feel extremely
stupid, foolish. Exposed, the sin is brought into the light. Things done
in secret seem much more okay; exposed to pubic view, they
immediately become shameful.

One minute she was happy, doing what she wanted to do. The next
minute she was in danger of dying in public disgrace. How could she
recover any respectability? Who would have the courage to show
restraint? How could she ever be redeemed? With her secret exposed,
joy suddenly became sorrow, and a horrible tragedy waiting to happen.


August 19, 1983
At this point in history, the Jews were no longer stoning woman for
adultery. And they probably looked upon the old law as primitive. Yet it
was still on the books as God's law according to Moses. To discount
one law weakens the authority of all the other laws. So this statute
was definitely a problem.

In their dealings with Jesus, it seems these religious leaders would
also have liked to stone him and Jesus knew it. He and this woman
had something in common--the scribes and Pharisees wanted to kill
them both.

This poor woman is so incidental. Nobody cares about her but Jesus.
They would kill her brutally and never bat an eye, feeling justified by the
law. Since she was caught in the act, a man was also caught in the act;
yet where was he?


August 20, 1983
Jesus was silent. Why? This is a unique response. No where else is
anything similar recorded. What was going on here? His enemies were
excited, impatient; he made them wait. They thought they had won a
victory; he was delaying their defeat. Was he considering how to reply,
or did Jesus already know his response? He drew this one out a little--
was it for the woman's sake so she would never commit adultery again?
For his own sake to think clearly, quietly, maybe to pray about his
answer? Or for his questioners' sake, to give them time to reconsider
what they were doing? Did Jesus fear that they would actually stone this
woman before his eyes? They almost have Jesus where they want him,
and think he is about to incriminate himself.


August 22, 1983
I too have sinned. Yet that doesn't excuse me from setting standards
and requiring that people live up to them. This story about not throwing
stones doesn't mean we condone sinful behaviors and attitudes.

I too have sinned. I too am capable of the same terrible acts I read
about on the front pages of newspapers. Somewhere in the Bible it
says, "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." So
correcting a brother or sister must be done in all humility. I too am
capable of abusive behaviors and childish speech. I too am capable
of choosing a lesser good or the easy path.


August 24, 1983
Father, how am I to understand this verse? It doesn't mean to condone
sin, or support sinners in their sin. Yet Jesus prevents them from
bringing the community's judgment on her. Was it because of the
unfairness of the situation or the ulterior motives? When can the
message of this verse be applied? To what type of situation is it relevant?
This is a verse that could be misused. I'm sure people have excused
their sin with it. Maybe that's why Jesus was reluctant to say it! Yet in its
proper context, it is a very beautiful verse--full of mercy and compassion.

I'm sure the woman was deeply moved. These must have been the
most beautiful words she had ever heard, and I imagine Jesus was the
most beautiful person she had ever met. She was going to live; Jesus
was able and willing to protect her from the mob of accusers who
meant to kill her. Saved from death, just as suddenly as she was taken
from "the very act." Suddenly Jesus becomes the focal point of her
attention; he's the one in charge. She is no longer under the authority
and at the mercy of the vengeful scribes and Pharisees, now Jesus
is in control/command of her circumstances, and he's quietly, calmly,
bending over, writing in the dust with his fingers?


August 29, 1983
Go and do not sin again.
Was she able to keep her lust under control; under the Spirit's control?
What about her need for human love and comfort, for touching and
affirmation, for doing what excited her? Was the holy Spirit of God able
to enter her life and fill all those needs so that she did not sin again?
Did Jesus turn her about, put her feet on the proper path, set her face
toward the Father, and send her forward--pure in heart, whole in body,
mind and spirit? And with all of her many selves going in the same
direction? Did she make it, Jesus, and maintain an unbroken
relationship of love for God?


August 30. 1983
Jesus uttered one brief sentence. Then he stooped down and let the
outcome up to those who had asked him the question. Now it was
their turn.

Jesus appealed to their sense of integrity and righteousness, and
these scribes and Pharisees were convicted in their conscience. Of
course, they were good people. But how can good people be so bad!
Never "caught in the act publicly," but in their own hearts they knew they
too were sinful people Their inner lives exposed to the piercing eyes of
Jesus, they were caught in their own trap. The taste of victory faded
quickly and they were defeated once more by this phenomenal man,
Jesus. Throughout the crowd, people must have been asking each other,
"What did he say?"


September 1, 1983
Jesus called the woman, just as he had the scribes and Pharisees,
to inner righteousness and purity of heart. When she woke up that
morning, this woman had no intention of meeting Jesus. She made no
preparations, neither had she rehearsed what she would say to him.
Maybe that's why the encounter was so brief. She had done nothing
worthy, yet here she is alone, one to one with the Son of God--scarred
by the sin of adultery. Jesus didn't ask if she was guilty, he made
reference to her accusers instead.

It's rather impersonal to talk about others when you could be receiving
help for yourself. Jesus doesn't usually talk about "them" when dealing
with a person. She had not sought Jesus, and Jesus didn't tell her
how to find victory over her passions.  Nothing is said about forgiveness,
faith, or believing. God's ways and works are beyond man's
comprehension, so let it be.

Where are the accusers? Well, as it turned out, they are all sinners too.
Did these words of Jesus pick her up a bit and provide some needed
comfort?


September 5, 1983
Where did the woman go after this incidence? There are natural
consequences for everything we do. Maybe for this lady, continuing to
live would be punishment enough. I don't think her husband wanted her
after she humiliated him and disgraced herself so publicly. She brought
shame to her father's house as well. So where did she go? Other
women would not want her around them either.

So what are we to do with sinners in a world God loves so much "that
he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life."?

That's where the role of the Christian community comes in. Unless
people can forgive, strengthen and help each other, someone like this
woman has nowhere to go. She needed a group that believed God
had forgiven her and were willing to treat her like she was forgiven.
I hope this lady found some people like that.


July 17, 2011
This story is omitted or just a footnote in most of our Bibles. Why?
Because it is not in the oldest manuscripts of John's gospel, but only
appears in later copies. Where it came from or how it ended up
where it is in John's gospel is not known. That leaves some questions
about it's authenticity. Should it be part of the gospel story or not?

                <prev                                                                  next>