By: Travis Stockelman
Have you ever met someone who has been beaten up by those around them? Perhaps those around this person are people he or she should have been able to trust. Perhaps they were even figures that he or she looked up to. Regardless, if we look hard enough, we will find someone like that.
In this passage, I think that Jesus has provided the example for how we should respond in this situation. When we examine this passage, I think it becomes clear that the actions of Jesus sharply contrast to the actions of the Pharisees and the woman brought to Him. Let’s look at each one in turn.
First, the Pharisees and scribes apparently caught the woman in the act of sinning. These Pharisees and scribes should have known what the Law of Moses stated. However, the primary goal here does not appear to be fulfilling the Law of Moses, but rather trapping Jesus, since they brought her to Jesus “to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him” (v. 6).
The woman caught in adultery was simply a pawn in the game. Have you ever known anyone who was treated that way? Like he or she was just an object to be used for someone else?
This woman definitely felt humiliated. Her sin was known, and now the religious leaders are calling for her execution. She was in a helpless situation. To the Pharisees, she was nothing. To the Pharisees, she deserved to be humiliated. In the eyes of the Pharisees, she was as good as dead. They kept her alive long enough to use her in an attempt to trap Jesus.
Shift the focus now to Jesus. When confronted with the fact that the woman was caught in sin, Jesus reached down and began drawing on the ground. It was as though He didn’t even hear what the Pharisees were saying. When they keep pressing Him, His response to them is short and to the point, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
And just like that, the conversation is over. Of course, the only One who could have thrown the first stone under those circumstances was Jesus Himself, and He chose not to.
After everyone left, Jesus spoke twice to the woman. First, He asked if no one had condemned her. When she realized that no one was condemning her, Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (v.11).
We notice that the attitude of Jesus was opposite that of the Pharisees and scribes. To Jesus, this woman was a person, not a pawn. To Jesus, she did not need to be humiliated, but healed. Instead of offering condemnation, Jesus offered grace. We should note here also that, in offering grace, Jesus did not condone this woman’s sin, but rather encouraged her to leave sin.
Do you remember the question at the beginning? Where are the people that are being beaten up around you? How will you respond? Will you respond like the Pharisees and join in the beating? Or will you respond like Jesus?