Summary: Picture # 9 in series: The 14 Candid Snapshots of the Maturing Christian as found in the Gospel of John. The woman caught in adultery is the picture of the maturing Christian leaving his or her old life of sin.
Picture # 9: The maturing Christian leaves the old life of sin.
Before we look at the text, take a look at the problem: The earliest manuscripts and many other ancient witnesses do not include John 7:53-8:11.
A reason this manuscript was not included in the early manuscripts could be that those who edited the text of the New Testament thought that this was a dangerous story, a justification for a soft view of adultery.
Another view is that this story is one so full of grace and mercy that people would have difficulty accepting it.
The woman caught in the actual act of adultery was a pawn used by the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees to entrap Jesus in order for them to have a basis for accusing Jesus.
Man’s basic problem is none other than a problem of sin.
If your salvation is based upon your own attempt at reformation(works), then the standard for achieving God’s grace is too high for you to reach.
If, on the other hand, your salvation is based upon condemnation, then you fall into despair and wallow deeper into your sin.
Therefore, the only adequate answer for man’s sin problem is the cross.
From the cross, God says, “You are guilty of the murder of my only Son!”
From the cross, God says to each one of us, “You deserve my infinite justice.”
From the cross, God also says, “Even though you are guilty of my murder, I love you," “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1,2).
So, from the cross, God says to each one of us, “You deserve my justice, but instead, I will give you my mercy.”
Picture in your minds this 9th candid snapshot of the maturing Christian as found in the Gospel of John.
It’s early in the morning before the heat of the day and Jesus is teaching in the temple.
Some teachers of the law(scribes), and some Pharisees burst on the scene in the temple, leading a woman they caught “in the very act”(verse 4) of adultery.
They brought her there and asked Jesus what should be done with her.
Their motive was a hidden motive, for they didn’t really have a concern for the woman; instead their plot was to trap Jesus.
If Jesus recommended they do what the Old Testament said and stone her, they would charge Jesus with lovelessness.
If Jesus answered, “Go ahead and stone her,” they would accuse Jesus of teaching people to love one another and forgive one another while at the same time not being loving and forgiving Himself.
Add this as a side bar to the story: If Jesus had said the woman should be stoned, then Jesus would not only be accused of not being merciful and forgiving, but Jesus would have been accused of breaking the Roman law which did not allow Jews to sentence people to death.
On the other hand, if Jesus recommended doing nothing, they would charge Him with lawlessness.
If Jesus said to them, “Don’t stone her,” He would be accused of disobeying the Mosaic Law.
To add another side bar to the story, these teachers of the Law and Pharisees did not have the right to put this woman to death, and they knew they didn’t have that right.
The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees demanded an answer, but the answer was not what they expected.
Jesus didn’t take their bait.
He didn’t even answer them, but he bent down(not appearing to hear them), and started to write on the ground with his finger.
This is the only place in the Bible which we have documented that Jesus wrote something, but what Jesus wrote, no one knows.
More than likely He wrote the many different sins of which the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were guilty.
Notice that Jesus bent over a second time and began writing in the sand a second time.
When Jesus completed His writing in the sand with His finger, He stood back up(He stood erect).
Since the accusers were supposed to throw the first stone, Jesus said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”(verse 7).
The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to leave one at a time, beginning with the oldest first.
Why do you suppose they left the scene of the temple?
The Bible says that their conscience was being convicted(verse 9 in the Greek).
How they must have plotted and sneaked around to catch the man and the woman in this act.