Text: John 8
Event(s): A women is caught in the act of adultery, Jesus defends His self-witness, Jesus predicts His departure, The truth shall make you free, Abraham’s seed and Satan’s, Before Abraham was, I AM
John 8:1 “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives” vs 53 of chapter 7 states that after the Feast of Tabernacles, everyone went to their home. Jesus didn’t have a home in Jerusalem. His primary residence was in Galilee. Not to mention, people were out to kill Him. So on this night, He instead went to the Mount of Olives to spend time in communion with His Father. This calls to memory the passage of scripture we read just a couple of days ago in Luke 9 when Jesus spoke about the cost of discipleship, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
John 8:2 “now early in the morning” Early, here, actually is translated to mean “very early” and there were people who met Him there very early. In this we hear the echo of Proverbs 8:17, “…those who seek Me early and diligently will find Me.”
John 8:5 “Moses..commanded that such should be stoned” Actually, if we read the law, there were some additional regulations put in place because of the severity of this death sentence. First, there had to be multiple witnesses to the adultery. There could also be absolutely no doubt in any of the details associated with the event. So the case would have had to be presented properly and all the facts would have had to have been undoubtedly clear. There could be no setups; no false witnesses. And, both the adulterer and the adulteress would have to have been present for “trial” and if found guilty, actually both of them – not just the woman – would have been stoned. It was so rare for all the necessary requirements of this law to be met that stoning for adultery only took place about once in every seven years, according to historians. This was a no doubt a shady case from the beginning and Jesus could see right through it. These men were not interested in justice, they were interested in trapping Jesus.
John 8:6 “Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger” There is much speculation as to what Jesus wrote; we simply can’t be sure. I believe if we were meant to know that, God would have seen to it that it was included in the text. But what is interesting is that throughout the Bible, the “finger of God” is a figure of speech used when referring to the power of God. Jesus said in Luke 11:20 “if I cast out demons by the finger of God, surely the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” It was also the “finger of God” that wrote this law, about adultery, on the tablets of stone in the first place (Exodus 31:18). Jesus had already brought an even greater clarity to this law, that to lust upon another was to commit adultery in the heart. (Matthew 5:28) His response connects to this thought very clearly in the verse that follows….
John 8:7 “he who is without sin among you” This did not mean he who is perfect, completely without sin. It meant, he who is without this same sin can cast the first stone. (Again, He had clarified that it wasn’t just the act of adultery itself, but the sin of lust in the heart). According to the law, the only way that the full sentence of death in cases of adultery could be rendered was if the requirements I mentioned above in the comments on verse 5 had been met. Additionally, once the sentence had been given, the witnesses of the adultery were to be the first to cast the stone. (Deuteronomy 17:6-7) They were the ones who had to initiate the penalty, thus subjecting themselves to blood revenge should their testimony later prove to be false. And in order for the witness to cast the first stone, he/they could not be guilty of committing the same type of sin as the accused. So whether the men here were guilty of adultery or lust themselves, or whether they had played accomplice to arranging this scenario, none of them would have been able to sentence this woman lest they be found guilty themselves.
John 8:8 “And again He stooped down” Jesus in His grace turned away, allowing the accusers of this woman to not have to face Him as they essentially disclosed their own guilt publicly by walking away.
John 8:12 “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” Isaiah 58:9-10 says, “If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness….Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.”
Today’s Takeaway: God does not shame us in order to cleanse us from our sin. Neither should we ever shame or painfully expose others. It is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Additional (optional) reading: The events in today’s passage are only captured in the Gospel of John. However, for additional reading, I recommend Isaiah 58.