The scene was not uncommon in the Gospels: Jesus teaching. The audience also not uncommon: the twelve disciples, various other followers, and the skeptics: the religious teachers of the law.
I always image the religious teachers standing with their arms crossed in the back of the crowd whenever Jesus taught. Yet still hanging on to every word Jesus said, to judge and find fault with him, or perhaps on the verge of believing he was more than just a teacher or prophet.
Then, a woman was “placed” before Jesus. This woman, they said was caught in the very act of adultery. “Such women” were to be stoned.
What say you Jesus?
The crowd eagerly listened. Perhaps Mothers with young children scurried back to their homes, offended to be in the presence of this woman. I always imagine her wrapped in a sheet. However this woman was presented, I’m sure her face wasn’t unknown to those in the crowd. They knew her, at least her reputation. And now this reputation was confirmed as she knelt on the ground, weeping tears from the depths of her heart and soul. Her sin was now exposed.
[Too bad the religious leaders were more concerned with what Jesus was about to say or do, and not this woman herself.]
The Old Testament was serious about sin. Well, God is serious about sin, but read Leviticus for a new view. It will bring perspective to the demands a Holy God. He expected holiness from His people. God’s wrath and jealousy for his people was that they have devotion to only Him, and that their actions reflect this devotion.
The religious leaders knew the Old Testament like the back of their hands.
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 20:10
“And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords.” Ezekiel 16:38-40
Yet this picture in John 8 paints a different picture of God.
(AND, side note = where was the man she had been sleeping with? The law also says he was to be killed too, but for some reason they only felt the need to condemn her. Interesting.)
Next, Jesus writes in the sand. Bible scholars have their own speculations on what he wrote, but truthfully, we really don’t know what it was.
Jesus then said: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
[Scribbles in the sand again.]
And one by one, they all walked away.
No one condemned her.
No one could condemn her.
Not even the sin-less Jesus Christ, who knelt down next to her.
Friends, there is much to be said about these short 11 verses. But tonight, I will not begin to say it.
We all are sinners in desperate need of God’s grace. Good thing for us: God is in no short supply of grace. He has lavished it upon us in ways we may never know.
So walk in grace today. Wherever you are, whatever your situation, whatever your story is: may it be told with grace. Lining every corner and crevice of your heart.