Adultery: Caught in the Act Part I
"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?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him."1
The woman being caught in the act of adultery "alone" and being brought to Jesus for his judgment is a dead giveaway of the motives of the religious bigots who brought this woman to Jesus. For instance, where was the adulterous man? Actually, the stones in their back pockets were for Jesus—not for the woman. She was merely a pawn in the game these hypocritical religious leaders were playing. They were intensely jealous of Jesus and were out to destroy him.
You can imagine these bigots gloating among themselves. "Whatever way Jesus answers, he will be dammed," they figured. "If he says to punish her according to the law of God, we will accuse him of having no mercy. If he says to let her go free, we'll accuse him of breaking God's law."
So there they stood encircling Jesus and this terrified woman. They were like a pack of hungry wolves waiting to pounce on their prey—in this case the prey being Jesus.
What did they care about the woman? Nothing.
"Now, teacher," they sarcastically addressed Jesus, "this woman was caught committing adultery—in the very act no less. God's law demands that such a woman be stoned to death. What is your judgment?"
Jesus ignored them. He stooped down and wrote on the ground . . . maybe, just maybe, writing the names of the men in the group who had also committed adultery? Whatever, they were persistent. So Jesus stood up and answered, "True, God's law says she must be stoned to death. Go ahead. Stone her."
However, after a brief silent pause, with a burning look into the eyes of every one of this woman's accusers—a look that pierced the depths of their consciences—Jesus added, "Hold it! One condition—let the man who has never sinned cast the first stone!"
The silence was deafening. Now more like frightened puppy dogs, the accusers tucked their hypocritical tails between their legs and got out of there as quickly as possible.
And then, Jesus, with a great heart of compassion that understood this woman's deepest need, said, "Where are your accusers? Isn't there anyone left to condemn you?"
"No, Lord," she replied, "they've all gone."
Then Jesus made a simple but profound statement: "I don't condemn you either. Go, and don't commit this sin anymore."2
To be continued.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me from pointing a critical finger at others when I myself have also committed the same or a similar sin. And like you, and because of your forgiveness of me, help me to have compassion on those who admit and confess their sins. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. John 8:2-6 (NIV).
2. See John 8:1-11.
NOTE: Today's Daily Encounter is adapted from I Hate Witnessing—A Handbook for Effective Christian Communications, (c) by Dick Innes (2010 edition), pp. 166-167. Available at: www.actscom.com/store