John 7:53 – 8:1-11
7:53 [[They went each to his own house,
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]
[[The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53–8:11.]
What is the general theme of the passage?
One guilty woman, a crowd of male accusers and Jesus — all facing the reality and consequence of sin! Jesus must distill the broad brush of the situation into something personal for both the guilty woman and her accusers. The woman caught in the act of adultery must see that disgrace and guilt are not what Jesus has in mind for her even though she is far from innocent. Jesus with so few words and such an underwhelming physical display of His presence has reminded the accusers they are not innocent either. Both the guilty woman and the guilty accusers must recognize the consequence of sin is lost innocence and once lost, innocence can never be recovered. Whatever Jesus wrote on the ground, twice, has convinced the accusers of that. They go away with only their guilty memories never acknowledging what Jesus wants them to see. While the law cannot restore their innocence, the experience of the law through His grace offers something more lasting for those accused by their own sin…a pathway to purity, “go, and from now on sin no more.”
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground… once more he bent down and wrote… Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him.
What does it say about people?
Here are a couple ideas to consider about what Jesus might have written before those men. Maybe Jesus wrote the scripturesa that spoke about adultery and guilt. “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel” and “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Were there guilty men there? Or maybe it was the names of the two required eyewitnesses needed to bring this charge. The standard for bringing such a rare charge was extremely detailed; the witnesses must see the actual sexual act with their own eyes. Were those men there? Jesus clearly identified “something” the accusers recognized with their own eyes in those words or marks He made on the ground …and “they went away one by one.”
a Deuteronomy 22:22 and Leviticus 20:10 ESV
Is there truth here for me?
Jesus was left alone with the woman, not to reveal her obvious guilt, but to offer her His guiltless righteousness to replace the condemnation of her lost innocence. “Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh…” Ro 8:1-3 NASB