A Legal Accussation That Backfires
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. — John 8:3-8
So this is a crazy situation. You might think this would never happen today. No one would be stupid enough to present the testimony of a known woman of ill repute before a court in hopes of entrapping a leader in a precarious situation. That would never happen. And yet we see a similar drama unfolding right before our eyes. (Don't read too far into my comparison because no one is like Jesus.)
Times don't change, do they?
So here are some thoughts on this text.
First, no one knows what Jesus was writing on the ground. People claim to know, and they don't know. If John wanted you to know and it was relevant, he would have told you.
Second, adultery was a severe religious-legal offense. It was banned by the seventh of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-20). The sentence for breaking this prohibition was death. Not just death for the woman but for both parties. (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22.) But these men only brought the woman, which is interesting. And a lot of people speculate why. But don't speculate. It's not important to know more. If it were, John would have told us.
Third, and this is the primary focus of this text. These officials were leveraging this woman and her sin to entrap Jesus. Rather than pursuing an honest discovery about Jesus, which is what Nicodemus attempted to persuade them to do, they do the opposite. And now the scales are tipped. The religious elite has revealed their malicious intent. So they contrive a plan to test Jesus's religious-legal wisdom. They have already concluded two things. First, he wasn't educated locally. Second, he extends grace to sinners. So they take a law that no one had enforced for years and attempt to use it to entrap him. Which is a cunning approach.
But these men were unprepared for how foolish this was. They ask Jesus how to deal with this woman's sin, but they have not considered their own sin. They have come to indict Jesus, but their inaction indicts themselves. They have come to entrap Jesus, but Jesus ends up entrapping them.
This is such a great moment. This is the vindication you have always wanted in your life.
And Jesus gets it. Why?
Because there is no one as smart and sinless as Jesus.
Here's your application today.
In those moments, you want vindication in your life. Stop. Don't seek it. Your desire for vindication will cloud your judgment. If you do, you might get entrapped by your malicious means of entrapment. Instead, be obedient to God. Let Jesus vindicate because there is no one as smart and sinless as Jesus. His vindication vindicates.
ASK THIS: What vindication do you seek today?
DO THIS: Ask Jesus to vindicate you.
PRAY THIS: God, may your Son and Spirit give me direction today. May your truth rise above my vindication and vindicate me.
PLAY THIS: No One Like Jesus.
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4 thoughts on “A Legal Accusation That Backfires”
The insight on your teaching is excellent thanks. we know what Jesus wrote on the ground, John purposely left it out for us to make us think (Jesus wrote the names and the sins of those present).
Thank you for not getting bogged down in the periphery as so many do. Dismissing the “non points” allows us to focus on Jesus and God’s true message, forgiveness and non-judgemental behavior, as well as the Spirit’s ability to reveal within ourselves what God wants us to know about ourselves.
We have a tendency to journey towards vindictive behavior when we take our eyes and heart off of God’s spiritual plan and ways. True, committed focus on God and Jesus’ desires for us to serve and glorify God does not leave room in our lives for our thoughts and ways. If I allow the Spirit to reveal my true self to me always, then I always fall short. Everything we do should bring glory to our Father.
That insight that the man is not also brought before Jesus has me speculating, but as you said Vince, if it was important, John would have written it down. Seems like a religious leader being protected from the potential stoning that they intended for the woman he was caught with, but I digress…
Another good point you made Vince was that this law had not been enforced for a while, which is a bit strange to hear, but seems to point to their own private sin cycles that took over during and after the exile from the promised land because they were doing the same things as the people in the land they were told to dispossess and NOT act like in the first place.
Thanks Vince for making the Bible even easier to understand and relate to modern day equivalents because some of the events that took place in that time are considered barbaric today in MOST places.
Ok Vince, most of this are thing I need to work on. The you have these that just smack me upside the head. Thank you.