“They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.” – John 8:6-8.
Just before His crucifixion, Jesus quietly returned to Jerusalem. Once there, He went into the temple and began to teach. The people were impressed; the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees were not impressed at all, in fact, they were angry. They decided to trick the Lord. Somehow (the Bible does not explain how) they knew of a woman who was at that very moment in time committing the act of adultery. The scripture reads:
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (John 8:4) There was no right answer. You see in Jesus’ day, corporal punishment of a crime was Rome’s job. So, if Jesus said “stone her” He would have been ignoring the Romans which was not a good move. But if Jesus had said not to stone her, it would have seemed as though He was flagrantly disregarding the Law. Jesus was not buying into their scheme.
Rather than speak His answer, Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground, using his finger. Then He stood and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He stopped and wrote on the ground again. The accusers dispersed.
We don’t know what Jesus wrote, but let’s just imagine that He wrote their names. “If any one of you….” Then, let’s imagine that when He knelt down again to resume writing, He began to finger-pen a list of sins…their sins. “…is without sin…”
When her accusers were no longer there, Jesus spoke to her for the first time. Whether they were alone or if His disciples were standing close-by, it must have felt as though there were no other people in the world, much less at the temple. The woman was standing, Jesus was still kneeling. And then He stood and turned to her. “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (John 8:10)
“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
The Lord certainly did condemn the sin, but not the person. It is a lesson in mercy. Have you ever believed the lie that your sin makes you unlovable to God? If so, remember the story of the woman caught in adultery. When you read this story remember that God is often different than we expect, much kinder in fact. Today you can meet this generous, kind, merciful Savior that loves you and died for you.
- What can we learn from the story of the woman caught in adultery?
- How is this story a depiction of the gospel?