Lessons from the Woman Caught In Adultery

Are we willing to give grace to a fellow sinner, or will we simply be the like Pharisees? (Baker Publishing Group)
Are we willing to give grace to a fellow sinner, or will we simply be the like Pharisees? (Baker Publishing Group)

This story opens with the scribes and Pharisees leveling a test at Jesus’ feet. Jesus sat in the women’s court of the temple, teaching the people.

Seeking to entrap Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees burst into the women’s court and threw a married (or betrothed) woman before Him. They “caught” her in the act of adultery and seized her. Consider the specific test they were putting forth: “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now the Law of Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”

And now we press the question that is so rarely asked whenever this story is read.

Who is this woman?

The answer may surprise you.

She’s you. And she’s us.

We have all been “caught” in our sins. By the same token James said that if you break one commandment, you’ve broken them all (James 2:10). That places all of us, men and women alike, on the same moral level. We have all sinned. If every Christian would have eyes to see this truth, we would humbly eliminate all self-righteousness from our hearts.

In short, we are all made of clay; we all have the propensity to sin. With one devastating statement Jesus demonstrated that the Law wasn’t wrong, but if everyone saw the Law for what it was, we would understand that we are all guilty. Including the self-anointed, puritanical, moral guardians known as the scribes and Pharisees … and those who follow in their footsteps.

It’s interesting that John 8 opens with a group of men wanting to stone a woman, and it ends with a group of men wanting to stone Jesus. When people’s hypocrisy is exposed, the typical instinct is to kill the person who did the exposing. And that’s exactly what Jesus did in this scene. Self-righteous men exposed an adulterous woman. A merciful prophet exposed the hypocrisy of religious leaders. It’s hypocritical for sinners to want to harm other sinners because of sin. According to Jesus, only the guiltless could rightfully carry out such a righteous sentence of justice.

Unfortunately, this same judgmental attitude lives in the hearts of many self-righteous Christians today. These are those who clearly see the evil in others while being blind to the evil residing in their own hearts. In the mind of God, righteousness and justice are grounded in grace. Whenever grace is removed, we are left with the heartless hypocrisy of Pharisaism. In this story, Jesus Christ didn’t overturn the Law. Instead, He re-established righteousness on the basis of grace.

He essentially said to the woman, “Don’t sin like this again.” Not because she might be stoned. But because grace had rescued her—and she now possessed a new identity as a beautifully loved child of God. Jesus is the Prophet who is greater than Moses. While the Law demanded execution, Jesus re-established righteousness on the basis of grace.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Charisma News
Frank Viola and Mary Demuth

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