A Woman Taken In Adultery

It is truly a blessing to have copies of the Bible that we can read and study.  In the Word of God, we are told of many different things that have happened over the history of mankind.  Some of those things are great accomplishments, while others are terrible failures.  When Jesus was alive on the Earth, He did many wonderful works, but He also witnessed some of mankind’s most terrible deeds.  On one such occasion, the Lord encountered a woman and her accusers.  This record is found in John chapter eight verses one through eleven.  “Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.  And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.  And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned:  but what sayest thou?  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.  But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.  So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last:  and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers?  hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord.  And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee:  go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11).

          John’s account of these events leaves us with both questions and observances.  First of all, we are shown the great work ethic that our Lord had.  The fact that Jesus went to the temple early in the morning shows His willingness to labor while He could (John 8:1-2).  This was later affirmed by Jesus when He said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:  the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).  Today, Christians should learn from this example and be “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).

          As Jesus took the time to teach, we are introduced to a mob consisting of scribes and Pharisees.  These men presented to Jesus “…a woman taken in adultery”, “…in the very act” (John 8:3-4).  First of all, let us establish that adultery is definitely a sin, and was explicitly prohibited in the Ten Commandments of the Law of Moses.  “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exo. 20:14).  Therefore, if the accusers were correct, then the woman was indeed guilty of sin.  However, how did these men come to this knowledge?  To catch someone “in the very act” seems rather dubious.  Did these accusers orchestrate this horrible act?  Was this, for lack of better words, “a set up”?  If so, then the accusers should have been ashamed of doing such a thing.  The reaction of Jesus seems to support this possibility.  Instead of readily agreeing with the men, Jesus understood that this was an effort to tempt Him (John 8:6).  Jesus then “wrote on the ground” in such a way as to somewhat ignore His tempters.  After more questioning, Jesus stood and gave the perfect answer to this problem.  However, it was not the answer that the accusers expected.  They were no doubt expecting a reference to Deuteronomy 17:1-7.  The Law of Moses commanded the stoning of one that had transgressed God’s covenant, but only at the “mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses”.  These witnesses would not have been acceptable witnesses if they were guilty of orchestrating the entire episode.  Their guilt is shown after Jesus stated, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7).  Of course, neither could do such because they were all guilty.  So, they left the woman standing there alone.  Alone?  Where was the man that committed adultery with her?  Why was he not paraded before the Lord as this woman was?  Again, this could be evidence to support that the guilty man was in allegiance with the woman’s accusers.

          Once the accusers left, Jesus spoke to the woman.  Without adequate witnesses, there could be no execution.  So what did Jesus do?  He encouraged the woman to move forward in her life by living righteously instead of sinfully (John 8:11).  In no way did Jesus accept or approve of adultery.  Instead, Jesus took the opportunity to encourage a woman and teach her accusers how to handle Scripture properly.
~ Corey Barnette