Based on John chapter 8
The Woman Caught Committing Adultery
It was the people who thought they were more religious than anyone else, the Pharisees and teachers of the law who started to oppose Jesus. They hated the fact that the people loved Jesus. But what they hated, even more, was that every time they tried to show Jesus up, to catch Him out, He ended up proving they were wrong and embarrassing them in front of the people! But if somehow, they could get Jesus out of the way, the people would come back to them – just like it was before!
So here was the problem. How to get rid of Jesus?
As far as His enemies could see there were only two ways. Either you got Him into serious trouble with the Romans so they’d arrest Him. Or, you proved that He didn’t take the Scriptures seriously, the bit we call the Old Testament in the Bible. If they could show He didn’t respect what the Scriptures taught, then the people wouldn’t trust Him any more!
It took some working out, but after a lot of thinking they came up with a plan! One of the laws in the Bible says that if a person was found committing adultery, sleeping with someone who wasn’t their own husband or wife, then all the people should throw rocks and stones at them until they died.
However, the Romans wouldn’t let that happen any more. They were in control now and they had their own law which said that only they were allowed to pass the death penalty – it was forbidden for the Jewish people to take matters into their own hands and stone people to death without Roman approval. If the Jews stoned someone to death, the Romans would arrest the person who started it and put them in prison!
This was the perfect opportunity to discredit Jesus; all they needed to do was find someone guilty of adultery. Then they would drag that person before Jesus and ask Jesus what should be done! If Jesus said that the person should be stoned to death, then the Romans would arrest Him and put Him in prison. And, if He said that the person shouldn’t be stoned to death, they’d accuse Jesus of not taking the Scriptures seriously showing He couldn’t be trusted. All they needed to do was find someone guilty of adultery. (PAUSE)
As they dragged the woman towards Jesus all they could think about was how much they hated Him! So what if the woman died? She was guilty of adultery; she’d slept with someone who wasn’t her husband so she deserved to be punished! Anyway, what did she matter, all that mattered was getting rid of Jesus, to silence Him and discredit Him once and for all!
Turning themselves into an angry mob they pretended to be outraged at what the woman had done! Dragging her along, they pushed her in front of Jesus who was teaching in the temple. ‘Teacher,’ they shouted, ‘this woman was caught in adultery! The Law of Moses says that she must be stoned to death for her sin. But what do you say?’
They could barely hide the smiles on their faces. They had Him, it didn’t matter what He said now! If He told them to stone her to death – they’d have Him arrested by the Romans, and if He said to let her go, they’d mock Him and discredit Him as being a person who didn’t obey or respect the Holy Scriptures. (PAUSE)
In those days, when a teacher taught a crowd of people they would sit down, and Jesus had been sitting on the ground. But instead of answering the cries of His enemies, He leant forwards and started to write in the dust with His finger.
His enemies could hardly hold back their joy, they’d got Him! At long last, they’d caught Him out. And so they pressed Him harder and harder for an answer. ‘Come on Jesus; tell us what we should do. The Law of Moses says she should be stoned to death. What do you say? Come on tell us, teacher, You know all the answers. What should we do?’
On and on they pestered Jesus until finally He sat up straight and looked up at them. The crowd watched Him in silence waiting to hear what He would say. ‘All right then,’ He said, ‘stone her to death…’ As the Pharisees and teachers of the law opened their mouths to speak, Jesus continued. ‘BUT, the first person to throw a stone at this woman must be someone who has never sinned!’ After He’d said this He lent forwards again and carried on writing in the dust.
The crowd stood in silence, rocks in their hands ready to stone the woman but now not sure what to do! (PAUSE)
It was the oldest men who left first, letting the rocks slip from their hands as they thought about all the many ways they’d let God down over the years and broken His law time and time again. The younger men followed shortly because everyone’s sinned, everyone’s fallen short of God standards. Finally, it was only the woman left standing before Jesus.
Looking up again He saw her standing before Him, alone. ‘Where have all your accusers gone?’ He asked. ‘Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’
‘No Lord,’ she replied, as she looked across at Jesus, unsure of what He’d say next.
‘Then neither do I you,’ He told her. ‘Go now, but make sure you don’t sin any more.’