Summary: I think we all can relate to the woman caught in adultery.
Maybe you’ve heard the story about the scene that took place in a San Diego court room. Two men were on trial for armed robbery. An eyewitness took the stand, and the prosecutor moved carefully: "So, you say you were at the scene when the robbery took place?" "Yes." "And you saw a vehicle leave at a high rate of speed?" "Yes." "And did you observe the occupants?" "Yes, two men." "And," the prosecutor boomed, "are those two men present in court room today?" Before the witness could answer the crowd was shocked to see the two defendants raise their hands.
Turn with me, if you would, to John 8:2-11, pg. 786 in your pew Bibles: one of the most beautiful stories in Scripture. Let’s read it together…
And early in the morning Jesus came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they said 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. 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. 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. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are your 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.
No doubt each of us is somewhat familiar with this story of the woman caught in adultery. We’ve read it many times and had our anger stirred as we’ve watched these self-righteous religious leaders degrading this woman, not for the sake of punishing her sin, but for the sake of finding something they could use against Jesus. Would He side with the law of Moses and condemn the woman? Or would He side with the woman and contradict the law of Moses? If He were to say, “Let the woman go,” He would be showing a disregard for the law by sanctioning her evil, almost encouraging it. But if He were to say, “Stone her,” He would be giving the Pharisees something to accuse Him of before the Romans, for they were the only ones at this time who could legally condemn a person to death. But He would also be throwing His reputation of being a friend of sinners to the wind, thus losing His position of high regard with the people. How would Jesus answer these conniving hypocrites?
It seems like a tough situation, but we’ve read with pride about the way Jesus handles it. Those men thought they had Jesus; they didn’t think He could get out of this one; they thought they had finally trapped Him. But Jesus is not confused or unsure of how to handle the situation. They have not left Him speechless and unable to bring an answer back to them. For as we’ve read we have had to smile as He quietly bends down and begins writing in the sand, almost as if He isn’t even listening to these accusers. And it’s fun to see Jesus forcing them to keep pressing for an answer from Him. And Jesus is able to very calmly show the wisdom that only comes from God.
We’ve been moved with compassion for this woman who was being humiliated in front of the scores of jeering and leering people who were listening to Jesus that morning. Who knows how she was clothed? Who knows how disheveled she looked? Who knows what all the Pharisees had put her through before she was pushed into the temple? Maybe they had paraded her through the city yelling out their accusations for all to hear along the way. Maybe they had even spat upon her or hit her. Who knows what they had done to her already? But whatever her condition and whatever she had already gone through that morning, she was completely disgraced and exposed in front of all these people and this great Teacher and miracle worker named Jesus. And, even though she was caught in the act, we have to feel sorry for her for being dragged into a situation like this and for being used as a pawn in the Pharisee’s scheme to nail Jesus, don’t we?