Summary: The story of the woman caught in the act of adultery and Jesus' response to the scribes and Pharisees' query about the law is one of the most intriguing episodes in the bible. Why did Jesus act in a way that on the surface seemed contrary to the law?
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“Neither Do I Condemn You”
As a congregation of bible-believing Christians, we are all bible-readers, because we all believe the bible to be God’s inspired and recorded message to the human race, the final court of inquiry for matters of faith and practice.
As we read the bible over a lifetime, we read with differing levels of understanding--not only from one person to another, but at different times in our lives.
As children we enjoy the exciting stories of baby Moses, Samson, and Daniel, as interesting and exciting stories. Then, even as small children, we become capable of learning simple lessons, or “morals” in the stories.
As we mature, we become capable of grasping the richer meanings in these stories.
We learn that everything is under a grand plan that appears before our expanding view, and that we are a part of that plan.
We learn how to become Christians, and how to become what God wants us to be.
The bible itself shows us that it is designed for us to progress to ever deeper understanding.
• Jesus scolded the scribes and Pharisees for hanging up on little things. The OT had “weightier matters” than tithing every little thing.
• The writer of Hebrews admonished the readers for preferring a diet of milk and not solid food, and for failing to advance as they should. Heb 5:13-14
I firmly believe the members of this church are progressing to greater depths, but we fool ourselves if we ever think we have fully plumbed the fathomless depths of the scriptures.
At age 84, Eulalia, a friend with whom I was discussing some bible topic said: “I’ve got that bible down pat.” When we think we’ve got it down pat, we stop learning.
In contrast, June Dodgen, not long before she went to her reward at age 94, told me she planned to grow and advance for as long as she lived.
The deeper things of the inspired words are like outer space, which goes on infinitely. We will never exhaust what they reveal. We limit ourselves and deny ourselves its richest bounty if we think we’ve gleaned everything the scriptures offer.
Let us never be content with a superficial understanding of the sacred writings.
When we read the bible, we must consider what we read in the light of the question, “What am I intended to take away from what I am reading?
II. The Text: John 8:3-11 - read
These verses are missing from the oldest manuscripts and those considered most reliable, causing many to believe that it was not in the original text, and is therefore not scripture.
Is John 7:53 - 8:11 an authentic part of inspired scripture?
The passage may have been in still earlier manuscripts than we possess, and deleted by copyists who believed the story contradicted the principles of upright living and consequences for actions; perhaps suspecting it was too much at variance with other scripture to have a credible claim to inspiration.
Matthew Henry says that in these verses there is more variation between the ancient manuscripts that do include the story than any other passage in all the scriptures.
We in the conservative tradition tend to think of every bit of text from any of the ancient manuscripts as scripture. If it’s in our printed bibles, we usually treat it as scripture.
I believe this passage is scripture, primarily because I believe it is compatible with all other scripture.
What does this story teach us?
• That adultery is a terrible sin? It is, but this passage doesn’t teach that.
• That the consequences of sin aren’t so bad? No, wholesale ignoring of sin is contrary to all the things he came to do. Jesus did not come to be an enabler.
• That only sinless people could apply the penalty specified in the law? No, for then no law could ever be upheld.
• That compassion for one caught in a compromising situation outweighs obedience? No, Jesus was compassionate, but he didn’t ignore her sin. Instead, he told her, “sin no more.”
• It is often suggested that the woman repented of her sin, providing a “doctrinally sound” path for Jesus to spare her.
It’s an easy leap for us to infer she must have repented, and that Jesus, all-knowing, recognized it and spared her--but it is a leap.