New American Standard Bible (NASB)
2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]
There are so many aspects to this story that it is hard to focus on just one. However, God put this story on my mind several days ago because of the ONE message He desired for me to share.
As I mentioned, there are many aspects to this story:
There is the fact that Jesus was speaking in the women’s court (see v. 20 of the same chapter – Herod’s temple built for the Jews had the women’s court in the treasury), somewhere by-the-way Rabbi’s would never consider lowering themselves to speak. That also means both men and women witnessed this event.
There’s the fact that only the woman caught in the act of adultery was brought into the temple. God’s law given to Moses in both Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 state both the man and the woman were to be stoned to death. In fact, each reference prefaces a man being the instigator of the adultery.
There’s the fact that John, the disciple that Jesus loved, is the only one who recorded this story.
There’s the fact that Jesus is God. Therefore, He and He alone is the only one able to say ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ because He is without sin.
There’s also the fact that Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground not once but twice. The second time causing the scribes and pharisees to leave, beginning with the older ones. Of course there’s always been speculation about what He wrote, but that still is not the message He gave me regarding this story.
What or who are we forgetting as we contemplate Jesus’ writing on the ground? Yes! The woman caught in adultery. And that is, I believe the number one purpose Jesus had in doing what He did. Jesus purposely took the focus away from the woman by writing on the ground.
Imagine her for a moment:
- weeping, probably
- frightened, absolutely
- did they even give her time to dress since she was ‘caught in the very act or did she merely grab the blanket from the bed to cover herself?
- set a new standard for women
- He respected them
- He treated them as equal with men
- He had compassion for their plight and their role society had forced upon them
This woman had an encounter with God. Jesus never condoned her sin but neither did He condemn HER. His compassion for her and her plight was utmost in His mind.
So what about you? Have you ever suffered being falsely accused by someone or been set up? Have you ever taken the blame for something that should have been shared with another?
Jesus knows it. He knew it before it even happened. He will change you if choose to encounter His compassion and grace. Coming back to my small town pregnant so many years ago set tongues wagging. Very few took the time to ask about my situation. Yet Jesus was with me in all of it. He has used my story time and again for my good and His glory. What about you dear one?