But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:1-11
John, one of the closest disciples to Jesus and the longest living, shares this incredible story of his Savior. It is generally attributed to him, unique to his Gospel and found nowhere else. He shares rich details of Jesus’ character, compassion and response to this woman in contrast to those of the religious leaders, the Pharisees. They stood in pride, judgement and disrespect. Jesus knelt in humility, grace and love.
The Pharisees used this woman as an accusatory trap for Jesus to choose between breaking Roman Law or the Mosaic law. Jesus in great wisdom asks them to follow the Mosaic law to determine if they should throw the first stone. As the Judge, with ultimate authority he persuades the human judges to disqualify themselves. Jesus respectfully reminds them of the law using a finger to write in the sand, like God wrote the Ten Commandments. He kneels with dignity before these important men on the woman’s level and humbly reminds them all mankind came from the dust and are sinful. It is the only time ever mentioned that Jesus wrote and no one knows exactly what he wrote. But it caused each Pharisee to leave the scene quietly beginning with the oldest, an important detail, perhaps regarding rabbinical traditions, but definitely implicating themselves.
We want to follow Jesus’ example here and love like Jesus loves. He meets us where we are at and doesn’t look down on us. We need to meet others where they are at and be like Jesus neither condemning or condoning, but extending the love of the Father. Jesus showed tough love to the Pharisees and a tender love to the woman. He didn’t flaunt who he was but he made his convictions known. Jesus’ love and forgiveness impacts everyone in the incident and us the reader. Isn’t that the way God wants us to be? Impacted by his love and then impacting others with it. Extending the love that’s been extended to us. We can have a holy influence with a heart made new by Jesus’ forgiveness. Let him help you drop the stones in your hand and fill your open hands with love to extend to others.
By Donna Burns