The Adulteress: A Stone's Throw from Grace

(John 8:1-11)

Her story is scandalous, first word to last. And glorious.

At dawn, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees tarried by a nameless woman's door, itching to drag her out of bed and into the temple, where Jesus was teaching. Moments later, half-dressed at best, the woman was forced to "stand before the group" (), like Hester Prynne wearing her scarlet letter, cheeks stained with shame.

The words of the Pharisees were harsh, accusatory: "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery" (). This woman? Look, she wasn't alone in that bed. Where was her partner in crime? Sleeping in? Reading the Mount Olives Times? Since Mosaic Law insisted "both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death" (), how come they weren't both hauled into the temple?

Sting Operation

Listen, the Pharisees weren't interested in punishing the man or the woman. They were after Jesus. And so they threw words at him, sharper than any rocks: "In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" ().

Oh, great. If Jesus told them, "Stick to the Law: Stone her," his grace-filled teachings went out the window. But if he said, "No! Don't stone her," he opposed the Law of Moses, a dangerous move for a rabbi. The Pharisees thought they had him nailed.

Breathless with anticipation, the crowd watched as "Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger" (). This is the only place in Scripture where Jesus wrote something, and we don't know what it was. Talk about frustrating! Did he list the Ten Commandments to prove he knew the Law? Write out the many sins of the Pharisees? Or scribble, "Don't go away mad, just go away"?

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May 25

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