Our culture loves to gossip about the sexual affairs of others. We buy magazines and pay close attention to the television news stories regarding the latest scandal, or we gossip within our circle of friends as to the rumors of the cheating husband or wife (or sometimes both). One of the reasons I believe we are so intrigued by these scandals is that we immediately judge someone as the guilty party and in doing so, we think ourselves as better than the so-called “cheater”.
Today’s reading link: Exodus 29; John 8; Proverbs 5; Galatians 4
John 8:1-11 contains the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery. She’s brought to Jesus in the temple in front of a crowd. As with every Bible Journal post, I read through the scriptures several times looking for patterns, asking questions, and considering various perspectives in search of a topic to write about. The thing that brought me to today’s focus was that the adulteress had only three words to say “no one Lord”, so I started thinking about her perspective in the situation and went from there.
- Where was her partner in crime? She must have felt betrayed in some sense by her lover since she was the sole guilty culprit brought to the temple to face punishment.
- She didn’t deny the charges. We assume she was guilty. Was she sorry for the sin or more sorry she was caught?
- The woman had to have been afraid for her life. The custom of stoning a person to death was surely no surprise. She was basically on trial for her life, believed by the crowd to be guilty, so the likely outcome was going to be death.
- The woman was probably in shock when Jesus demonstrated such wisdom in his response. Perhaps she assumed that Jesus was going to condemn her to death or tell the Pharisees to leave her alone. What he did was a beautiful act of love, mercy, and wisdom which can only come from his connection with the Father. In doing so, Jesus once again does not fall into the trap.
- It wouldn’t have been typical for the scribes and Pharisees to bring the guilty party to Jesus. When Jesus asks her “Has no one condemned you?”, her three word response… “No one Lord”. I’m envisioning a very embarrassed, tearful, honest and soft tone as she speaks these words.
- I was wondering if the woman was remorseful for what she had done. Sure, we’re all seemingly remorseful when we’re caught, but did she truly feel badly? I’m going to assume that based on her sin, she knew deep down she was living a lie. Perhaps she was married, perhaps she was having an affair with a married man, or both. Regardless, she was living in some sort of darkness, afraid of getting caught.
- The woman humbled herself to address Jesus as Lord. Remember, the Pharisees were the ones who were in the power seats with much authority. Jesus was a poor man from Nazareth, so for her to address him as Lord suggests she knew who Jesus was and perhaps even had reverence for him.
- Did anyone else wonder what Jesus might have been writing in the dirt? Since writing supplies were limited, I assume it was a common practice to write in the dirt. He had something perfect to share, but unfortunately he was bothered by greedy accusers trying to trap him. I’ll chalk this up on my list of questions to ask Jesus.
- How about those who intended to throw the stones? Upon being called out by Jesus, did they repent? Dropping the stones and walking away was their own confession that they too were sinners.
- Jesus didn’t condemn the woman, instead he granted mercy and acknowledged the wrongdoing and commanded: Sin no more.
Did anyone else have a renewed feeling after reading this story? I love how this story is a story not just of one person’s sin, but truly a reflection of the sins of us all, God’s judgement, and the mercy given only through Jesus Christ.
- We have a sinner caught in the act, which could be any of us with any of our sins. God’s penalty for sin is death; no matter how big or small the sin, it still separates us from Him.
- Jesus, the light of the world exposes the darkness around the sinner in that those who were portraying righteousness were sinners as well.
- The enemy is not the adulteress woman. The enemy is Satan who wants us to remain in the dark and trapped in our sin. He is the father of lies who wants us to believe we cannot be forgiven. He wants us to think that we are the worst, that no one would understand, that we are all alone in our sin, and that the sinful choice is somehow better than the righteous path. He wants us to die in our sin.
- The penalty for sin is death, but Jesus intervened and gave the option for her to repent and sin no more. No one else can do this. We all have the choice to either go back to the bondage of sin, or allow Jesus to take over, and to trust that his way is the way that leads to life restored.
While part of me wishes we knew more about what happened to the woman and her accusers, I also enjoy the mystery as well as focus on what we can learn from what is shared with us. In the end, we can fully trust that there is nothing missing from the Bible; had God wanted us to know what happened, he’d have allowed those details to be provided.
God we thank you for revealing your character and your numerous perfect attributes through your words in the Bible. Thank you for giving us the resources to learn more about you and your ways and your will for our lives. Thank you for revealing our sins to us, reminding us of the penalty, and for your perfect plan in sending your son Jesus Christ to die as the substitute for the penalty that we deserve. Amen.