Caught in the Act Part I
"At dawn he [Jesus] appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"1
Perhaps one of the most beautiful examples of communicating Christ's love in the entire New Testament is where Christ ministered to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery.
Why the scribes and Pharisees brought only the woman—and not the man—to Jesus for judgment is a little difficult to understand. How the woman could be caught in the act of adultery alone is beyond my comprehension. If truth be known, the guilty man may very well have been one of the accusers even if he weren't present in the accusing circle. The whole affair was undoubtedly a setup to trap Jesus.
Regardless, you can just see these religious bigots gloating over their victory. "We've got Him cornered at last," they bragged among themselves with a false sense of anticipated triumph. "He can't win. And we can't lose. Whatever way he answers, we have him trapped. If he says to punish her according to the law of God, we'll accuse him of having no mercy. If he says to let her go free, we'll accuse him of breaking God's law." Quite a scheme … so they thought.
So here they are, encircling Jesus and the guilty woman. They were like a pack of hungry wolves just waiting for the signal to pounce on Jesus and devour Him. What did they care about the woman? Absolutely nothing. They were using her as a pawn in their game.
"Now, Master," they piously addressed Jesus undoubtedly in a sanctimonious tone of voice, "this woman was caught committing adultery in the very act. God's law demands that such a woman be stoned to death. How do you feel about that? What say you?"
Jesus ignored them. He stooped down and wrote on the ground. But these men were persistent. They were determined to win their devious game so they kept pressing Jesus for an answer.
So Jesus stood up, looked each one of them squarely in the eye, and agreed with them. "Yes," he said, "you're absolutely correct. The law of Moses, God's law, does say that such a woman should be stoned to death."
"He's agreeing with us," they mused among themselves, and you could see them going for the rocks tucked under their religious robes—the rocks of accusation they were about to hurl at Jesus. They were more concerned about killing Jesus than they were about stoning the woman or defending justice.
"So," continued Jesus, "go ahead and stone her to death if that's what you desire." After a brief moment's pause and with a burning look that pierced the depths of their consciences Jesus added, "However, gentlemen, wait just a minute—let the man who has never sinned be the one to cast the first stone."
Thud. The silence was deafening.
To be continued …
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a spirit of discernment so that I will always know when enquirers are genuine or if they have a hidden agenda seeking to hurt a fellow struggler who has fallen. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. John 8:2-5 (NIV).