Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Woman Taken in Adultery

John 8:1-11

“Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.  And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.” (John 8:1-2)

The Mount of Olives was a popular campground for visitors to Jerusalem, and Jesus was camping there.  When he came to the temple early in the morning, a crowd gathered and he sat down and began to teach them. 

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” (John 8:3-6)

A woman had been arrested for committing adultery during the night.  Looking for something that Jesus said that was in clear contradiction to the Law, the scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus to see if they could get him to do something that people would find offensive.  They referred to Law, saying that it demanded that an adulteress be executed.  They asked him if he thought that was an appropriate punishment.  Since they had caught her in the very sex act, there was no question of her guilt.  Jesus simply stooped down writing in the dust as if he hadn’t heard them.

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.” (John 8:7-8)

They refused to be ignored, demanding He answer their question.  Finally, Jesus stood up and told them that the one who had never done thing wrong should be the one who started t5he process, casting the first stone.  Guilty people are not qualified to judge others, as Paul points out in Romans 2:1.  “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”  They tend to excuse those most like themselves while being very strict with those who are different. 

The Law they were referring to was Leviticus 20:10.  “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”  Since they had caught the woman in the sex act, they also knew who the man was.  The Law specified that both the man and the woman were to be executed.   By executing the woman and letting the man go free, they were setting a double standard, and violating the Law themselves.  After giving his opinion, Jesus stooped back down and continued what he was writing. 

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:9)

They all knew exactly what the Law said, as did the rest of the crowd.  None of the leaders dared throw the first stone, knowing to do so would only call attention to their guilt.  They slipped away hoping no one would notice, leaving Jesus and the woman standing in the middle of the crowd.  

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord.

And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

After a few minutes, Jesus stood up and asked the woman where her accusers were or if they were still bringing charges, and she said no one was pressing the charges.  Jesus said he wasn’t going to bring any charges against her, but that she needed to make sure she didn’t do it again. 

Jesus clearly did not condone her sin, or excuse it, but under the law, a person could not be executed unless there were two or three witnesses to prove his guilt.  Deuteron0my 17:6-7 says, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.  The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.”   When the rulers slunk away no witnesses were left to accuse her.  Legally he had to let her go if he was to follow the Law.  He in no way impugned God's righteousness by implying that the sentence was unfair or excessively severe.    

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