Woman Caught in Adultery

Lesson 7

by Jackie Alston

Today, I'm going to talk to you about a very familiar story of the Bible. This story is recorded in John 8 :1-11, and it deals with the seventh commandment, "THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY." As we all know, Jesus was sent here to seek and save those that were lost. In order for him to save them, he first had to find them. So often he would be found in the company of sinners, and during his travels he came in contact with a few women who had committed adultery.

As we've come to know, the Scribes and Pharisees along with the Sanhedrin did not believe who Jesus was. With their "holier than thou" attitude, they couldn't visualize the Messiah stooping so low as to eat and drink with sinners, prostitutes, and tax collectors. So they had a real serious problem with Jesus. "Who did Jesus think he was, going against their principles, forgiving sins, healing on the Sabbath, raising the dead? And if that wasn't enough, he had the gall to accuse them of pretending to be righteous. How dare he!

So they set out to destroy Jesus in any way that they could. After several failed attempts to trick him, they decided to wait and watch. And they watched and they waited until the opportunity arose in this case of the woman caught in the very act of adultery. Since she was caught in the very act, there was no doubt as to her guilt so they believed with all of their hearts and souls that they finally had a way to trap Jesus. They would put Jesus on the spot and get rid of a sinful, dispicable woman at the same time.

So they haul this woman before Jesus in front of a multitude of people. Why wasn't she taken to court? There was a court system back then. Simply because condemning this woman wasn't quite as important as trapping Jesus. They were going to have their own court. She was the accused, they were the witnesses, and Jesus was going to be her judge. But evidently, they didn't know that in Jesus' first advent He had come to be savior for the lost. His second advent He would be judge.

So Jesus is teaching to this multitude when all of a sudden His teaching is interrupted by this group of heartless, coldblooded men parading this woman before Him to be judged. What a bunch of chauvenistic pigs they were! They hauled the woman before Jesus, but where was the man? Why wasn't he brought forth also? According to the law, they both should have been stoned to death. Why was he allowed to escape? He could have been a Pharisee who was going right along in this plot to trap Jesus. This poor woman may have even been set up. Who knows? But Jesus had divine wisdom and knowledge to deal with each and every one of his adversaries, and so it ended that neither Jesus nor the woman was on trial that day but the Scribes and Pharisees had their day in court. And they certainly found out that "people who live in glass houses should not throw stones."

This group that came to Jesus were by no means dummies. They had among them theologians who studied the law and knew it well, although they abused it sometimes for their own benefit. So they came to Jesus gloating, saying, "Master, this woman was caught in adultery, according to the law she should be stoned, what sayest thou"? If Jesus was here in this day and age, I could imagine him thinking, "Now I know they didn't go there, calling me Master when they don't believe in Me nor the things that I teach. What a bunch of hypocrites!" And to Jesus, a sinner, publican, or a prostitute would enter into His kingdom before a hypocritical Scribe or Pharisee. He just had a very low tolerance for those types of people. So the Scribes and Pharisees started out on the wrong foot, they just didn't know it.

But their question was one that would have trapped any normal man, but Jesus wasn't a normal man. Either way Jesus answered, they would have reason to accuse Him. If He answered "stone her", He would've convicted this woman to death and back then, only the Roman government had that authority so Jesus would have been going against the Roman government. If He had answered, "let her go", then He would've been teaching to disobey the Law of Moses, and Jesus, being a Jew, not to mention the Messiah, had a solemn obligation to respect the Law of Moses. So Jesus answered them in a way that we all need to learn how to answer questions sometimes--- with silence. The scriptures say, He stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground as though He heard them not."

I can imagine the Scribes and Pharisees thinking, "Alright, we got Him, He doesn't know what to say!" But everything Jesus did, He had a reason for doing it. When He stooped and wrote on the ground, first of all, He was showing disregard for the Scribes and Pharisees. This disgraceful public display that they had brought Him into was not appreciated. Back then, when a person talked to you and you ignored them and began to write, whether it was with pen and paper, a knife on a tree, or a stick on the ground, it was a symbol of intentional disregard. Second, Jesus was showing compassion for the woman. When they brought her forth, hundreds of pairs of condemning eyes were all on her. Jesus brought those eyes away from her down to Him. My, My, what a man!

The Scribes and Pharisees weren't as smart as they thought they were. Although they should have recognized that sign, they interpreted Jesus' actions as Him being at a disadvantage; so they pressed on, demanding an answer to their question. And the Scriptures say, "Jesus lifted up Himself." He could have remained stooped and still answered their question, but He arose, and in doing so gave them a chance to see what He had begun to write on the ground. Then He answered their question. Not with the judgement call they were expecting but with words that pierced and stung their very souls, "He That is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." And again Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground, this time as if to say, "I refuse to be a judge, not hers, not even yours. But I will give you this opportunity to search and examine your own hearts." And Church, their hearts really needed searching because they actually believed that they were the only righteous ones in the gathering that day, until they saw the writing on the ground.

Now you may wonder, what was that writing? What could Jesus have written on the ground to make these self appointed inspectors of moral conduct pause long enough to examine themselves? Unfortunately, nothing is recorded, although in one book I read, it said in an earlier ancient translation, the eighth verse of those Scriptures included the words "he wrote on the ground the sin of each of them." That could have been true. He certainly would have known it. But all the other books I read said when Jesus used the words "he that is without sin", He was referring to the same sin they were accusing the woman of ---adultery. So each of these men had committed adultery, some physically, some within their hearts. And if that was the case, then maybe Jesus had written on the ground their names and dates they committed adultery. We don't know, or, Jesus could have been reflecting on the Law of Moses, thinking, "you're trying to trick Me with the Law of Moses? Don't you realize I was present when that Law was written, written by My Father's Finger of Love? Don't you know that my Father and I are one? Let me write that same Law of Moses with the same Finger of Love. You can't trick me with that!

We don't know what was written. It's one of those situations like the eighteen lost years of Jesus' life, nothing is recorded. In Deuteronomy 29:29 states, "the secret things belong to the Lord; those things which are revealed belong to us". So evidently, we don't suppose to know. But whatever was written made the Scribes and Pharisees conscience of their own guilt. there they were, probably rocks in hand , ready to stone this woman for committing adultery when they had committed adultery themselves. Talk about the "pot calling the skillet black." Evidently, they didn't realize who was in the kitchen that day------JESUS! I know you've all heard the expression " if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Well, the Scribes and Pharisees couldn't stand the heat. They had to get out of there before Jesus reveal any further guilt on their parts, and the Scriptures say, "they went out one by one beginning with the elders even until the last, and Jesus was left alone and the woman standing in the midst.

I wish I could have heard the conversation between the Scribes and Pharisees as they were leaving that gathering. Perhaps they went through the "what if" scenario. I'll mention that a little later in the story. But then again, they may have walked in silence, too embarrassed to speak. They came there to expose Jesus for something He wasn't and got exposed for something they were.

Now Jesus is left alone and the woman standing in the midst, meaning her accusers had all run away. Why didn't she? The law stipulated that at least two of those witnesses had to stay there and give testimony against her, but none of them did, so she was free to go. Why didn't she just run away? There was something about Jesus that compelled her to stay. In the midst of the Scribes and Pharisees' shouts of "STONE HER, STONE HER, she could sense Jesus was there to "SAVE HER, SAVE HER." So she stayed there standing over Jesus. Silently standing over Jesus, no words of repentance, no excuses for committing adultery, no pleas for mercy, no pleas for forgiveness--nothing! She just stood there waiting, longing to hear the words that would set her free.

And according to the Scriptures, here goes Jesus lifting Himself up again. The last time He lifted Himself up, it was nothing nice, but this time it was different, He lifted Himself up so he could be face to face. He was about to restore someone to His favor. But instead of Jesus immediately saying the words that this woman so desperately needed to hear, He hesitated, asking her questions that He already knew the answers to. "Woman where are thine accusers, hath no man condemned thee"? Why was Jesus beating around the bush? It was the same thing He did with the woman at the well. You know the story."Go call your husband and come back." She replied, "I don't have a husband." BINGO! "But you've had five and the man you're living with right now is not your husband." In so many words, Jesus was asking, "what does that make you?" He had to bring them face to face with their own sin before He could save them.

In this case, although the woman's accusers could not condemn her, she still had to face the fact that she was an adulteress. Jesus told her in so many words "neither do I condemn you but by no means do I condone adultery. Adultery is a sin and I hate sin, but I love the sinner, "GO AND SIN NO MORE." He didn't tell this woman the same thing He told the woman in Simon's house, "YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN". She didn't ask for forgiveness, hadn't repented. So Jesus gave her a second chance to do so. "STOP YOUR SINNING AND REPENT! What she did with that chance we are not told, the story doesn't go any farther. I guess it's safe to assume she went straight. Surely she recognized she went from standing on death row to being pardoned. We know she recognized one thing that the Scribes and Pharisees didn't. She recognized Jesus Christ as Lord when she answered, "No man Lord."

So this woman was on her way! Can you imagine her excitement? Let's say for the sake of the story that in that excitement she ran right pass the Scribes and Pharisees who had tried to use her as a trap. I can imagine their conversation. "Will you look at that! Who is this Jesus? We couldn't even trap him with a woman caught in adultery. What if... we had brought a murderer or a thief, surely we could have trapped Him then. I don't think so. Didn't Jesus pray for His own murderers and gave salvation to a thief while He was dying on the cross? There was no way they were going to trap Jesus. They could have brought every sinner from A to Z, it wouldn't have mattered. The results would have been the same because Jesus was on a mission and He's still on that same mission today, to seek and save those that are lost. An adulterer is lost, a backbiter is lost, a liar is lost, a hater is lost . And if you're lost, that means you do not know the way. But Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.". "So bring that adultery to me, your backbiting, bring it to me. As a matter of fact, bring the sin of the whole world to me, place it on My shoulders and let Me take it to Calvary. "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there you may be also".

Jesus promised us that He would go , and He did. He promised that He would prepare a place for us, and He has. He promised that He would come again, and He will......... we just don't know the day nor the hour. But don't we owe it to ourselves to be ready? Since all men sin and fall short of the glory of God, we must learn from this woman caught in adultery. We must learn first of all, to be slow in condemning the sins of others, but quick to condemn the sins in our own lives; and most importantly, we must learn to declare to EVERY sinner God's forgiveness. For Jesus who bore the sin of the world by his suffering forgives most graciously. And we too can hear him say, "Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more."

Providence Family Ministries

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