1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst
4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.
5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
6 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.
7 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.”
8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Jesus here is teaching. He is in a position of authority when the Pharisees show up to pose their question. They refer to the command in Deuteronomy 22:24, referenced again in Ezekiel 16. Jesus does not respond to them directly, but instead bends down and writes on the ground. We don’t know what he wrote, or why. It appears from the next line that it did not answer their question, however, as they “continued to ask him.”
At this point he stands up (ceasing his writing) and gives his answer. He does not (directly) challenge the law cited, nor the guilt of the prisoner. He also ignores the obvious duplicity of the Pharisees. He says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” and then bends down and continues writing. I think this is really interesting. First his passive-aggressive approach to the presentation; he does not say the law is correct or incorrect, does not challenge it, but instead challenges those who supposedly seek to uphold it. Presumably, he’s speaking only to the Pharisees when he says “among you,” as it later says they all left but there’s still someone around to record the event. His challenge, then, of saying that only the one without sin among the judges may condemn is very interesting. After they leave, he is left standing “alone” with the woman (presumably not entirely alone – rather still in his position of authority, with his followers watching) and he then tells the woman he does not condemn her, and tells her to sin no more. This is an acknowledgment of Christ’s sinless nature, as he did not walk away with the Pharisees, or move on, but instead took the responsibility of resolving the situation into his own hands after the other authorities had left, being unworthy.
This idea shapes a lot of my interactions with those outside the church, and I hope will further shape it in the future. I have always had the idea that if someone does not claim the doctrines and teachings of scripture, it is unreasonable to expect they will follow the teachings. It would be like a member of the basketball team being upset with a member of the chess club for not showing up to morning practices in the gym.
Note that this is not moral relativism I am suggesting here: the truths and morals laid out by Scripture are not compromised. I instead suggest that those who reject the Word will obviously reject its morals and teachings. It is not our place to judge them, for we are no more sinless than the Pharisees above. Rather, I have chosen to merely make the person aware of my beliefs and let it rest. Again, my job is not to judge. My job is to act as an emissary of the Gospel. An emissary, “someone sent on a mission to represent the interests of someone else.” I [should] represent Christ through my actions and lifestyle, constant preaching or judging is not only counterproductive but inappropriate. Even Christ, when he absolves the woman, simply says “sin no more.” We don’t know what happened to her. She may have gone right back to her sinful lifestyle. Christ has done his work. He has told the woman what she must do. It is up to her to follow. Similarly, my non-believing friends know that I am a Christ-follower. They, I hope, see some glimpse of his purpose in my life. I represent him to them. It is up to them to follow.
…I’m also really curious about what he wrote.