Context: The encounter of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery is both fascinating and a bit perplexing. It’s not in the earliest manuscripts of the gospel of John, and some of the later manuscripts put it in another place or even in the gospel of Luke. Some have speculated that it is an actual, historical event but not necessarily part of the inspired Scriptures. Many say it’s one of the most poignant encounters Jesus had with someone, which is hard to argue with. Not only the woman was never the same, we suspect the scribes and Pharisees who dropped their stones and walked away were never the same either!! I think it fits here because Jesus has spent the past 3 chapters exposing the arrogant, self-righteous and judgmental spirit of the religious leaders (as it related to His healing on the Sabbath) and in this encounter he sheds even greater light on their motives. If you’d like a 90-second dramatic reflection on the scene you can find it in the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’ here:
Observations: What do you think of this passage? What do you think Jesus was writing in the ground? What was their motivation in bringing the woman to Jesus? The passage states they went away one-by-one, starting with the oldest. Was it because the oldest were more aware of their own sin upon Jesus’ statement? Perhaps they had heard of Jesus’ teaching that ‘if you lust after a woman you have already committed adultery in your heart.’ Or something else? Note the poignant and powerful blend of truth and grace here: ‘Woman, has no one condemned you? … Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.’
Application: Consider a way that you’ve been prideful, arrogant, self-righteous or judgmental (it may be very different than the scribes and Pharisees, or not). Throw down your stone and ask God to do a fresh work in your life! Consider a way you have been impure or unholy (it may be very different than the adulterous woman, or not). Ask Jesus for the strength and freedom to ‘go and sin no more’.
Prayer: Jesus, do a transforming work in ALL our lives … those of us who have been self-righteous, prideful and judgmental as well as those who have been impure, immoral or just disobedient. Might grace AND truth abide in our lives and in the entire Evergreen body so we can be lights in a dark place. Amen.