Are we so quick to punish others in order to prove our own righteousness? Do we test Jesus to try to prove Him wrong?
John 7:53 – 8:7
53 Everyone went to his home.
8 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 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.”
This is a very common story from the bible. In fact, many people refer to it without even finishing the statement Jesus says and just eludes with the first words he without sin… Let’s see what is happening here.
In the temptation of Christ, we learn that the devil tries to twist God’s truths in order to try to deceive the most devout of followers. The Pharisees, people who studied the scriptures and the laws the most, know better than the way they portray here. The Mosaic Law, which they referenced specifically, actually calls out the stoning of both adulterers, not just the woman. We see this in Leviticus 20:10, “If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” We also find the same principle and the heart of the law (purging evil from the chosen of God) in Deuteronomy 22:22, “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.”
Because of their piety, the Pharisees thought they could get away with the trickery and attempt to fool Jesus into “slipping up”. I’m pretty sure if anyone annoyed us for long enough we would start acting questionably too just to prove them wrong. The point I think we tend to skip over is that they were testing Him. What were they testing Him about? If it’s the Law, it’s the Law, right? There shouldn’t be any question about it. Apparently, there was. His message was love, forgiveness of sins, and healing. Will He contradict Himself?
Yesterday we discussed God as judge, the One Judge. Here, Jesus is exposing this same theme, noting that since everyone has sinned, (the penalty for which is death) it is not up to them to judge because they are no better. So, not only is she to be killed for her sinfulness, but everyone is. I’ve always been curious what it was Jesus was writing in the sand. Did it apply to the situation or was He just doodling? Was He writing sins they have committed? Maybe He was writing parts of The Law that supported His point.
Do we use the Law and other rules to condemn others in order to make ourselves look good? Do we ask questions for trickery or out of honest yearning for more understanding? What is Jesus writing in the sand for you?