In this chapter, Jesus is confronted about an egregious sin by a group of self-righteous accusers. A woman is taken in the very act of adultery. What is His response? What is our answer when dealing with open sin in our ranks? Do we stand with the accusers, or with Jesus, stooping to write on the ground?
[Jhn 8:1-30 KJV] 1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 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. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 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]. 7 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. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 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. 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? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. 13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. 14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, [yet] my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. 15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. 16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. 17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. 19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. 20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. 21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. 22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. 23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins. 25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even [the same] that I said unto you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. 27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. 28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am [he], and [that] I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. 30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.
After the controversies in Jerusalem over His credentials to do the things He has done, Jesus retires for the evening to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning, however, He is back again, no doubt, to the dismay of the chief priests and the leaders of the people. It is incredible despite the hatred they held for Him and the tight control they prized over all things of the Jewish religion, that Jesus could enter the temple to teach at all. Try doing that in the local church and see what happens to you. There are many local churches, if not most, in our culture that maintain a stifling control over the activities in their midst that would rival a concentration camp. You aren’t allowed to speak. You don’t have permission to share. You can’t pray for someone unless you have a badge, etc., etc. The chief priests and Pharisees who crucified Jesus would be appalled at the lack of freedom of expression in the modern-day church. What does that tell you about the modern church? Even a precursory reading of the New Testament will discover that the early church was a vibrant community where sharing and ministry were encouraged and cultivated among all the people as 1 Cor. 14:26 elaborates:
[1Co 14:26 KJV] 26 How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
The scribes and Pharisees in v. 3 bring Jesus a woman taken in adultery. Where is the man? They insist she was taken in the very act. How do they know this? Did the man get a pass because it was the woman’s fault? This happens many times in religious settings where the woman is vilified, and the man is seen as a victim of something he willingly participated in and often initiated. The conspirators insist that the law says that she must be stoned. Jesus pauses, stoops down, and begins to write on the ground with His finger. What did He write? In truth, we have no idea. Some have suggested He was writing the names of the men standing before Him, thus exposing their own sexual conquests, but that is just conjecture. Whatever be the case, Jesus rises to His feet as they insist He answer them and says, “He that is without sin, let him first cast a stone at her…”
The lesson cannot be made more explicit. Is this not something that church culture needs to apply itself to? We don’t know what the woman’s demeanor was; she may have been defiant, knowing the guilt of the men who apprehended her at this point in the encounter. What about today? We don’t throw rocks at offenders, but words can be just as damaging. When dealing with the sinful lives of those around us, whether in or out of the church, what is to be our response? Are we genuinely standing up for righteousness when we speak so harshly against the adulterer, or the homosexual, or the transsexual, etc? Paul made the following remarks concerning these things:
[Rom 2:19-24 KJV] 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
The men gathered around Jesus, from the oldest to the youngest, turn and walk away, being convicted by their conscience. What about the Christians who spew out their vitriol at those they consider offenders and those they are in disagreement with? Where is their conscience? The men before Jesus are those who in just a few days WITHOUT CONSCIENCE will crucify Jesus, yet they had the presence of mind to know when they had condemned themselves by their actions. What about Christians today? Are we willing to think differently about those we condemn? What will be our end if we sear our conscience in pointing the finger at others when in doing so, we only affirm our own blood-guiltiness?
Jesus looks at the woman and says, “where are your accusers? Where are those who condemn you…” If a woman who committed adultery the night before came into your church and her sin were known, could she look around the congregation and not be able to find one accuser or one person to condemn her? Paul says that those who would condemn the woman are only demonstrating the fact that they have the same sin in their hearts and rather than admit it are casting dispersions upon others. The lesson is this – to the degree; we level blame, we confirm our own guilt.
Jesus tells the woman in v. 11, “neither do I condemn you..” Most people would stop right there. Sinners shake their fist at the church and say, “stop condemning me; you have no right to condemn me!” And they are right. We have no right to condemn, but that is not all Jesus has to say. Go and sin no more. What is the point? Condemnation will never deter men from sin, but that doesn’t mean that sin goes undealt with. The God who loves us unconditionally still puts an expectation upon our behavior. If we choose to continue in sin, we despise the love that God demonstrated in Christ and condemn ourselves, not because God isn’t loving or understanding, but because we are obstinate and unbelieving. We would rather have our sinful lifestyle than a loving savior.
Jesus goes on in v. 12, declaring, “I am the light of the world..” If we follow Jesus, we will not walk in darkness. There is the telling fact of our testimony. If there is darkness in us, manifesting as a lifestyle contradictory to the life that Jesus exemplified, what is the problem? Our fellowship with Him is defective. You can’t solve the problem by dealing with the sin; the sin is symptomatic of an anemic or non-existent relationship with Christ. Repair that – and sin will no longer have a hold on you. This is why Jesus dined with publicans and sinners. He put Himself in their lives, and the leavening influence of His purity and love provoked change in them that brought them out of the degradation of their sinful condition. This is Rom. 2:4,5, the goodness of God leading men to repentance. We evangelize the lost but loving them unconditionally, trusting in the light of that love to convict, to influence and to lead them not only away from sin, but TO Jesus. Many are led away from sin and live sour lives of discontent, pained by the rigors of their ideas of self-denial. That is dead religion. Life in Christ, however, fills one with the joy of knowing Jesus that so eclipses every other influence that sin no longer has dominion for you have no place for it in your life when its influence estranges you from the Master who loves you so well, you want never to leave His side.
In v. 21, Jesus again, as He did in ch. 7, declares that He is going away and where He was going, they could not come. The Jews speculated that He would commit suicide, which they may have been hoping for, but Jesus silences them making a clear statement regarding the basis of salvation. He states in v. 24 that if they do not believe in Him, they shall die in their sins. The sins are the symptom; the cause is a refusal to believe on Him whom He has sent. This is the sin that puts man in hell, the unpardonable sin of rejecting the Savior. There is no other clemency to be found in God. Not good works. No altruistic sacrifice. Not the good opinion of others who think you ought to go to heaven because you are so nice. Hell is full today of nice, loving, kind men and women whose lives were typified with good works, sacrifice, and generosity, but because they chose not to believe in Jesus, they are condemned to an eternal, mark it ETERNAL hell.
Jesus concludes in v. 28 that though many among them did not believe that they would believe when He was lifted up. Perhaps He saw Himself on the cross at that moment when the soldier pierced His side and even as a hardened centurion looks on in amazement, slipping his helmet from his head, declaring “surely this was the Son of God…”