Harmony of the Gospels, Forgiveness of Adulteress

 Jerusalem
Forgiveness of Adulteress
John 7:53-8:11


Chapter 7 told of Jesus teaching during the Feast of Tabernacles and the great stir He caused among the Sadducees and Pharisees.  They tried to have Him arrested, but couldn’t, because His time had not yet come.  And then the feast was over-

(John 7:53) And every man went unto his own house.

No one invited Jesus into his home.  It was a feast night, but Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives.  As far as we know, He never spent a night in Jerusalem.

How about you, my friend?  Do you go to your own home and leave Jesus out in the cold?  Or have you accepted His wonderful invitation, so that you live in the love and light of His presence?

(John 8:1-2)  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.

Remember that the night before there had been a meeting of the Sanhedrin and that people were divided in their opinion as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah.  Nicodemus defended Him.  Everyone had gone home, and not one had invited Jesus to his house.  Early in the morning, He came back to Jerusalem, went back to the temple, and sat down to teach.

(John 8:3-4)  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.

What could be more crude and rude and brutal than this act of these religious rulers?  As our Lord was setting in the temple area teaching the people, there is this hullabaloo outside.  Then here comes these religious rulers dragging a woman with her clothes in disarray, her hair all disheveled, defiant, and resisting them.  The crowd would naturally turn and look to see what in the world was happening.  The religious rulers bring her right into the midst of the group that the Lord is teaching!  They fling her down on the ground there, and make their crude charge.  “This woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.”  They wanted to trap Jesus between His allegiance to the Law and His merciful love for every one, even those who violated the Law.  It was a trap and Jesus knew it, but He ended up trapping the trappers.

She is guilty, there’s no doubt about that.  And what she did was sin.  Our Lord called it sin—He finally said to her, “Go, and sin no more.”  They knew the Law perfectly well: “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbors wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:10).  Where was the man?  The very fact that they did not produce the man also makes it apparent that they were not interested in enforcing the Law.  They had another motive.

(John 8:5-6)  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.

They are right about the Law of Moses; there is no way of toning it down.  She should be stoned.  They are putting Him on the horns of a dilemma.  Will He contradict Moses?  Will He say something else, offer some other explanation?  They did this to trap Him so that they might accuse Him.  They didn’t really want to stone the woman.  They wanted to stone Him.  Our Lord knew that, of course—He “needed not that any should testafy of man: for He knew what was in man” (John 2:25).

This scene is very interesting.  The defiant woman is flung down before Him.  The crowd has no respect for her embarrassment, her feelings, and they leer at her and crane their necks to see her, adding to her humiliation.

Jesus stoops and writes on the ground.  In effect, He dismisses the case.  He will not join with her accusers.  He will not so much as look at her to add to her embarrassment.  He stoops down and writes as if He doesn’t even hear them.

This is the only record we have of Him writing anything.  He is the One about whom more books have been written, pro and con, than about any other person who has ever lived; yet He never wrote anything except this in the sands of the temple floor, which the wind or the feet of the crowd erased.

What did He write?  Of course we don’t know, but I can make a suggestion. 
Turning back to the prophets, we pick up something quite interesting: “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters” (Jer. 17:13).  Now, who had forsaken the Lord?  This woman?  Yes, she had.  The religious rulers?  Yes, they had.  Their names shall be written in the earth.  This is what I think He wrote, linking their names with the sins of their past.  Perhaps He wrote the name of a woman living in Rome.  One old pious Pharisee had an affair in Rome when he was a young fellow.  His wife didn’t know about it; no one in Jerusalem knew about it; but our Lord knew that old rascal.  Just as he wrote the name of that woman, the old Pharisee came over and saw it—and suddenly remembered that he had another appointment.  Perhaps one of the scribes made a regular trip to Ephesus, a great sinning place, to a certain address over there which Jesus wrote in the sand.  The scribe looked at it and said, “Oh, my gracious!”  He left hurriedly.  Another scribe may have left a girl in Galilee who was pregnant.  He didn’t marry her, and he didn’t think anyone knew.  Our Lord wrote the name of the girl and the scribe’s name with it.

“Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance” (Ps. 90:8).  Secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.

(John 8:7-9) 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 answered His accusers, He did not abolish Moses’ law; rather, He applied that law to the lives of those who had accused the woman.  Here Jesus gives the requirement for being a judge, which is something all of us need to hear.  We have the right to judge others provided we meet the requirement.  That requirement is sinlessness.  May I say to you, friends, I don’t know about you, but that takes me out of the stone-throwing business.

I read what an old time preacher said about this unpleasant incident.  He said: “The older ones left first because they had more sense than the younger ones.  The younger ones hung around until they saw their own names come up, and then they caught on and left themselves.  So there wasn’t a person there who could throw a stone at her except One.  Only Jesus could have thrown a stone at her.  All the others had slinked away.  What a bunch of hypocrites they were.”

(John 8:10-11) 10 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.

This woman was guilty of sin, and according to the Law of Moses, she was also an adulteress and should be put to death.  Is Jesus reversing the Mosaic system?  No.  He is placing His Cross between that woman and her sin.  Jesus, who is the Son of the virgin, who Himself was under a cloud all His life, is going to the Cross to pay the penalty for even the sin of this woman.  He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world.  He didn’t come to judge this woman.  He came into the world to be a Savior.

A great many people think they are lost because they have committed a certain sin.  I have news for you.  A person is not lost because he is a murderer, or a liar, or a thief, or an adulterer or because he has borne false witness or committed other sins.  A person does those things because he is lost and doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ forgives sins.  He is the savior.  He died for the sins of the whole world.  Any person who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ is forgiven.

Allow me to sum up what happened at this time.  The Law of Moses had strict rules about sexuality (Ex. 20:14). The punishment for adultery was death by stoning for both the man and the woman (Lev. 20:10). If Jesus confirmed the death penalty, His compassion would be questioned; if He refused to confirm the penalty, He would be accused of contradicting God’s Law.  He wisely referred the question to the woman’s accusers, for Jewish law also called for the witness to cast the first stone in the case of capital punishment.  Jesus also affirmed the sanctity of marriage, making it clear that men, as well as women, are expected to keep their vows.  He did not condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery.  Instead, He forgave her, as He would later forgive the very people who nailed Him to a Cross (see John 3:17).  Jesus faced the sentence of death Himself, for the adulteress, for the sinful Scribes and Pharisees, for everyone.  His grace provides hope for every sinful soul (see John 8:12).

 

Do you have any questions or comments?

 There are 5 websites by this author:

http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

Please review them and use them as the Lord leads you.

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