“Now early in the morning He (Jesus) came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say? ”This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.”
(Woman caught in adultery.)
While He was here on earth, Jesus went about doing good everywhere He went. All who were sick or oppressed of the devil that came to Him were healed and delivered. He opened the eyes of the blind, fed thousands of people, and preached the Gospel.
You’d think everyone would be overjoyed to have Him stay forever and make everything right, huh? But the religious set of the day wanted to get rid of Him. We’re about to find out why.
Those legalistic bunch of hypocrites, the Pharisees, were so angry and jealous of Jesus. Betcha if He preached the same kind of thing they did—law mixed with a little grace—they would not have endlessly tried to trap and discredit Him. Well, not on that account anyway.
So why were they so focused on trying to trap Him? They were so blinded by their hatred and jealousy of Jesus. You see, before He arrived on the scene, they had been the center of attention. The people came to them for help and advice. They were the most important people in society, almost revered. But now the people flocked to Jesus instead of them. They were so blinded by hate that they couldn’t see past the end of their turned-up noses to see The Son of the Living God STANDING RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF THEM.
“Caught” In The Act?
How “upstanding and noble” of them to bring a sinner to Jesus. They didn’t really have a question about what should be done with her. Nope. It was just another in a long line of wicked, nauseating, infuriating attempts to try and trick or trap Him in a lie or some inconsistency. They plotted and plotted for anything they could do to discredit and destroy Him.
The account says she was “Caught” in the act of adultery. I say “Caught,” quote unquote, because you notice they didn’t bring the man with her. Last time I looked, adultery takes two. They didn’t bring him along because it was probably one of them: One of the Pharisees, I mean. (Just my opinion). It’s quite likely she was unclothed. The whole sordid scene was probably a set up.
So, they “dutifully” brought her to Jesus and said, (no doubt in haughty, self-righteous tones), “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.”
Jesus Challenges The Crowd.
Jesus, however, cool as can be, was non-plussed. He never even responded to them. Instead He stooped down and began writing on the ground with His finger.
Those hard-nosed hypocrites thought to themselves, “Aha! We have Him cornered, now.” They reasoned that if Jesus just forgave her and let her go, they could say, “See? He has transgressed the law of Moses!” But if He said, “Stone her,” they’d cry, “Oh look, He preaches grace but where’s the grace now?” thereby discrediting His ministry.
But Jesus wasn’t fooled by their ruse. He knew the hardness of their hearts. Let’s continue the story in verse 7:
“7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”
Jesus again didn’t answer them as if He hadn’t heard a thing they said. He simply stooped down againand wrote with His finger on the ground a second time.
What Did Jesus Write On The Ground?
What do you think Jesus wrote on the ground that evoked such a dramatic response from this heretofore self-assured, self-righteous crowd? You’ve probably heard, as I have, lots of ideas and speculation.
I always assumed He wrote in dirt on the ground. However, due to a fairly recent archaeological discovery, they have unearthed the actual temple courtyard where Jesus would have written with His finger. Guess what, Church: He didn’t write in dirt; HE WROTE ON THE TEMPLE STONES……TWICE, in fact!
Hmmm…..let me think now. Writing……on stones…..with His finger. Where have we heard that before? Does it sound familiar? It should! God wrote the Big Ten up on Mt. Sinai on tablets of stone back then not once, but twice, just like in this story. Notice it says that Jesus stooped down TWO TIMES and wrote on the ground.
Remember back in Moses’ day?
God had to write a second set of stone tablets because Moses broke the first set. Jesus stooping down twice was a picture of that occurrence.
It may interest you to know that those tablets were not written on just any old stone. They were made of sapphire, according to Rabbinical tradition. Yes, you read that right: SAPPHIRE. Believe it or not, there is actual scriptural preceding for this conjecture, if you don’t believe the rabbis.
(For those who like to read more about that, you may follow the link below:
The text doesn’t specifically say what Jesus wrote but it gives us a REALLY BIG CLUE! As He was writing, one by one the accusers (depicting our accuser, the devil) each dropped the “STONES” they were carrying and went away. How does the devil accuse us? WITH THE LAW. In Biblical typology, stones are a depiction of the law.
Holy, Just, Good, And Inflexible.
The law is holy, just and good but it is completely inflexible. It demands ABSOLUTE COMPLIANCE…….OR ELSE! Every single one of them knew very, VERY WELL that, if you are guilty of one, you’re GUILTY OF ALL. NO MARGIN FOR ERROR! When it comes to the Law, God doesn’t grade on the curve.
What Jesus did by writing on those stones was reminding them of WHAT ELSE had been written on stones: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. His actions said to them “You presume to tell me the law? I’m the One Who gave it.”
He didn’t yell; He did chide. He simply, quietly, graciously, perhaps even gently, with great sadness at the hardness of their hearts, was reminding the angry crowd that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WAS GUILTY OF BREAKING THE WHOLE LAW.” No wonder they all dropped their stones! They knew they were just as guilty as this woman they entrapped.
Neither Do I Condemn You.
They had come to Jesus brandishing law. Whenever anyone did that, He gave it right back to them except He restored it to it’s pristine standard. You see, legalistic people don’t really have the proper respect for the law they think they do. They water it down just enough for them to be able “obey” it. To this woman, however, who offered no defense or excuses for her sin He showed great Grace. He didn’t accuse her nor did He excuse her sin. The passage goes on like this:
“10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her,
“Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”
FIRST, Jesus let her know with love for her in His eyes that He did not condemn her. THEN He said “Go and sin no more.” He gave her the gift of “no condemnation” SO THAT that she could walk uprightly.
Just like her, you and I don’t have the grace we need to “go and sin no more,” either because the strength of sin is the law. But THE ANTIDOTE TO SIN IS GRACE. You cannot out-sin Grace. His Grace is greater than all our sin.
The Church has it backwards. What you often hear is the exact opposite: “Go and sin no more, THEN you are not condemned.”
But only when we know we are NOT condemned are we empowered to live holy lives, almost by accident; effortlessly, as it were. That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “He who is forgiven much, LOVES MUCH.”
(For more on that topic, you may follow the link below:
Gift Of No Condemnation.
He does that for us today: Gives to us that same grace, that same gift of “No condemnation.” Contrary to popular opinion,
grace does NOT give people a “license to sin.” Who needs to be governed by the Ten Commandments when we are lead from within by JESUS HIMSELF!
(For more on that topic, follow the link below:
License To Sin?
The legalistic, self-righteous pharisees among us are always saying that “Grace gives people a license to sin.” Jesus says OTHERWISE. Since when do people need a license to sin? They seem do so perfectly well without one. It is LAW, in truth, that produces licensciousness.
It is a lack of knowing how forgiven they are that causes people to sin and remain in bondage to debilitating habits. Remember, “The strength of sin is the law, but “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
Church, you are forever righteous in Christ. Your entire life, including your future sins, are completely cleansed. You, too, have the power to “Go and sin no more” because Jesus says to you, “Neither do I condemn you.”