Caught in the Act!
Today’s Text: John 8:1-11
This section is not included in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts of this Gospel, and thus is often not covered by commentators in their works. The reasons for this are several, and although we will not take the class time to analyze them, the truth is that this probably doesn’t belong in John. However, it does appear to be consistent with Jesus’ ministry and has parallels in the Synoptics and thus it would seem to be “authentic Jesus”. It is certainly instructive for our purposes in wishing to know Him better and to understand His teachings. Certainly is was highly enough regarded to have been preserved by the early church as authentic Jesus.
The scene has changed, Jesus has apparently spent the night near theMount of Olivesand is alone in the morning as the action begins…
8:3-8 The Pharisees and teachers of the Law approach Jesus with a woman they claim has been caught in the act of adultery. They present this to Jesus (as a judge) and remind Him of the Law which prescribes that both parties to adultery be put to death. (Lev. 20:10) Based upon their accusation and the insight provided by verse 6, it would appear that someone has staked out the situation hoping to catch her “in the act”. They apparently apprehended her immediately and dragged her to Jesus. Who was her husband, who was her co-criminal and who actually saw this are not identified, however the desperation of the authorities to stoop very low to trap Jesus is apparent. These accusers have no interest in a debate concerning the woman’s guilt; it isn’t under discussion here, they want a verdict and a sentence from Jesus. I can’t help being intrigued by this since Jesus is actually qualified to render a verdict and they are not! Jesus’ response to their demands was to bend down and write in the ground with His finger. Finally He gives His reply in verse 7 and continues writing something in the dirt.
8:9-11 After all of the accusers had left because none could deny that they had sinned, Jesus speaks to the woman. In the end, he sets her free. Note that by the standard He set, Jesus was the only one qualified to cast a stone, but He lets her go. He does not send her off to continue her sinful ways, but rather He admonishes her to sin no more. What we see here is Jesus forgiving the woman for what she had done and calling her to repentance, which is also what He has done for us.
The Lessons for Us
People are frequently quick to condemn others, but who among us is without sin? Can we look around and condemn our brother when we too are sinners? Condemnation is God’s job; our job is to forgive and to encourage and correct with patient endurance, not to condemn. Second, as sinners, we too deserve to die but God has forgiven us through Christ. You and I are commanded to repent of our old ways and walk in newness of life with Christ… and yet we still stumble and need forgiveness again. With that being the case, we are hardly qualified to cast stones at others. Forgiveness and repentance are key qualities in Christ’s teaching for our behavior in life.