Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” – John 8:10-11.

The religious leaders in biblical times were anything if not persistent. They were always looking of an excuse or reason to get rid of Jesus, or at least to silence Him. They had tried numerous times to trap him with topics like paying taxes to Caesar, divorce and marriage. The motive of the religious leaders is obvious in John 8:6: “They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.” They were interested in maintaining the status quo and keeping their lofty positions. 

This time they thought they had a slam dunk; a woman caught in adultery. John 8:3-4 says, “They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.”  They were referring to Deuteronomy 22:22: “If a man is discovered committing adultery, both he and the woman must die. In this way, you will purge Israel of such evil.” (see also Leviticus 20:10) While they had not been successful trapping Jesus to date, the religious leaders believed this time would be different. Jesus would have to draw a line in the sand. The Law permitted stoning. It even demanded it. They brought the evidence – the woman – in front of Jesus.  They believed they had Jesus right where they wanted Him.

I imagine the woman was crying or sobbing or both. She probably was resigned to the fact that this was not going to end well for her. The religious leaders made their case that scripture states that she should die. They wanted Jesus to draw a clear line – a boundary – between ‘‘us’’ and “them.” Between the sacred and the common. The good and the bad. They wanted Jesus to move into their culture.  Maybe if  they trapped Him in a no-win situation, the crowds would stop following Him. But Jesus wrote in the dirt with His finger, stood and said, whichever one of you has no sin, throw the first stone.  Let her have it. Jesus returns to writing in the sand. The religious leaders and all the spectators leave. Verse 10-11 says: “Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The religious leaders hated Jesus for his inclusion and tolerance and for hanging out with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus upset many of the Jewish leaders because he extended fellowship and mercy beyond their constricted boundaries and outside their culture. It is a lesson for us and we should always remember that we deserve condemnation, but God gave us mercy. I deserve to be counted out, but He gave me another chance. I deserve death but He gave me life. God feels the same way about all the people that make up the culture around us. Clearly we should not be distancing ourselves from today’s “sinners and tax collectors.” More importantly, cultural separation ignores the task we’ve been given to carry the love of God forward to those who might need it most. The challenge is to draw a line in the sand when culture draws us away from God. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. When do we need to draw a line in the sand when we are faced with temptations of culture?
  2. Are you holding a stone to throw at a certain person or group? When you catch people in their brokenness in our culture, do you look more like Jesus or the religious leaders?
  3. Read Romans 8:1 as a group. How would truly believing this transform our daily life?.