1 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he went back to the Temple area. The people all came to him, and he sat and taught them.
3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in bed with a man who was not her husband. They forced her to stand in front of the people. 4 They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The Law of Moses commands us to stone to death any such woman. What do you say we should do?”
6 They were saying this to trick Jesus. They wanted to catch him saying something wrong so that they could have a charge against him. But Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger. 7 The Jewish leaders continued to ask him their question. So he stood up and said, “Anyone here who has never sinned should throw the first stone at her.” 8 Then Jesus stooped down again and wrote on the ground.
9 When they heard this, they began to leave one by one. The older men left first, and then the others. Jesus was left alone with the woman standing there in front of him. 10 He looked up again and said to her, “Where did they all go? Did no one judge you guilty?”
11 She answered, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “I don’t judge you either. You can go now, but don’t sin again.” a
“Forgiveness makes us feel better.” Bridgette, 6
“It is the right thing to do since Jesus forgives our sins by dying on the cross.” Jonathan, 7
“Sometimes we say mean words. So sometimes we gotta say sorry.” Dylan, 5
“I like to forgive them. When I do something wrong and get mad at them, they still forgive me, so that’s why we are still friends. We love each other, so we all play with each other.” Gabriela, 9
“When you forgive, you feel better and you don’t feel hurt anymore. Forgiving is good because you can make people feel better almost every day.” Maryn, 8
John 8:1-2: But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
One time a man said that he would follow Jesus wherever he went. Jesus said, “The foxes have holes to live in. The birds have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to rest,” (Matthew 8:20).
Here we see that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to spend the night. This is a mile or two from Jerusalem, but it’s not a walk on level ground. You have to walk down into a ravine and then up the Mount of Olives.
Jesus got up early to teach in the temple. Notice that he sat down when he taught. In Jesus’ day, it was common for a teacher or rabbi to sit while teaching.
John 8:2-6: The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman they had caught in bed with a man who was not her husband. They forced her to stand in front of the people. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses commands us to stone to death any such woman. What do you say we should do?” They were saying this to trick Jesus. They wanted to catch him saying something wrong so that they could have a charge against him. But Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger.
By example, Jesus teaches us to be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). Here is a difficult case that is filled with a lot of emotion. The woman had sinned. Religious leaders wanted to trap Jesus; however, Jesus remained calm and took his time. If something difficult doesn’t require an immediate decision, think and pray about it. Ask God for wisdom, and he will give it to you.
“Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom,” (James 1:5).
Here is the trap that religious leaders planned. If Jesus followed the Law of Moses, the woman could be stoned to death. The Roman governor who ruled over the Jews would not like this because only he had the power to condemn someone to death. Remember, Governor Pilate later commanded his soldiers should crucify Jesus.
If Jesus showed grace by forgiving the woman, the religious leaders would say that Jesus didn’t follow the Law of Moses. What would Jesus do?
At first, Jesus did nothing. He stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger. For about 2,000 years, everyone has wondered what Jesus wrote on the ground. No one knows. What we do know is that the Bible mentions God writing with his finger in only one other place. When God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses, he wrote them with his finger on stone tablets (Deuteronomy 9:10).
John 8:7-9a: The Jewish leaders continued to ask him their question. So he stood up and said, “Anyone here who has never sinned should throw the first stone at her.” Then Jesus stooped down again and wrote on the ground. When they heard this, they began to leave one by one. The older men left first, and then the others.
Under the Law of Moses, the stoning of a person required that at least two people who saw their sin should cast the first stones. These two people could not be involved in the sin that they had seen (Deuteronomy 17:7).
The religious leaders asked Jesus to pass judgment on the woman. Instead, Jesus judged the religious leaders who accused the woman. The leaders were convicted by their own consciences. Your conscience is that little voice in your head that speaks to you when you’re about to do something wrong. It’s like a policeman in your soul. Even the proud religious leaders could not silence the little voice in their heads that spoke to them when Jesus said, “Anyone here who has never sinned should throw the first stone at her.”
Perhaps the leaders remembered the Book of Daniel where handwriting appeared on the wall that said King Belshazzar has been weighed on God’s scales of justice and come up short (Daniel 5). The very night on which God’s handwriting appeared on the king’s wall, Babylonian King Belshazzar died. The Babylonian kingdom fell to the Medes and Persians.
John 8:9b-11: Jesus was left alone with the woman standing there in front of him. He looked up again and said to her, “Where did they all go? Did no one judge you guilty?” She answered, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “I don’t judge you either. You can go now, but don’t sin again.”
Jesus did not ask the woman if she was guilty of the sin. She probably was guilty. Jesus was more interested in the religious leaders who brought her to him than the guilt of the woman.
As we see in John 5:22, God the Father has given Jesus the power to judge everyone: “Also, the Father judges no one. He has given the Son power to do all the judging.”
But we also see from John 3:17 that Jesus did not come into the world the first time to judge the world, but to offer himself as a sacrifice for everyone’s sins: “God sent his Son into the world. He did not send him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.”
When Jesus returns to establish his kingdom, he will judge. Even though the woman was guilty of sin, this was not the time for Jesus to pass judgment on her. Jesus gave her mercy. This woman will have to stand before Jesus in the future. For now, he warns her about the sin she committed.
How can Jesus be a righteous judge and not punish the woman?
Jesus knew that he would die to pay for the sins of this woman and the sins of the entire world (John 3:16). The woman deserved to die for her sin. Jesus took her punishment. He died in her place.
Bible scholar Thomas Constable said this: “Law and grace do not compete with each other; they complement each other.” What he means is that no one has ever been saved by keeping the law. Everyone except Jesus has broken God’s law by sinning. God’s law is good, but it shows us that we need a savior. The law of God shows us our need. The grace of God offers us forgiveness because Jesus Christ took the punishment that God’s law demands. Jesus died in our place. He took the punishment that we deserve.
Think About This: It’s easy to judge people, especially when they do something wrong to you. Give grace to people even when they have done something wrong. Think about how much God has forgiven you. If you have trusted Jesus as your savior, God has not only forgiven your sins, but he has guaranteed that you will live with him forever. That is amazing grace! Show that grace to others.
Memorize This Truth: “I mean that you have been saved by grace because you believed. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 You are not saved by the things you have done, so there is nothing to boast about,” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).
Ask This Question: Do you give grace to people who wrong you?