We were going through John 8 at Bible study last night. The sophomores in high school had blank looks on their faces as we tried to get at the heart of this passage. Here’s the text:
3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?”6 They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her.”8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:3-11
We talked about what it meant for Jesus to defend this woman caught in sin. One of the guys offered up that this passage teaches us not to judge because we’ve all screwed up. And this is true, there’s definitely a message about that in there. It’s clear that we have no rights as sinners to be throwing stones at others whose sin has been exposed. But stopping there, we are missing what I feel is the root of this passage. The Bible is a book about God. He is both the author and the main character and the story centers around Him. As an infinite and perfect being, how could it not? So reading this passage and any other passage, the question has to be asked, “What does this tell me about God?”
It speaks volumes that the only one who does have the right to throw stones in this story, Jesus, doesn’t so much as pick up a pebble. In His perfection, He came not to condemn the world but to save it. He shows this woman that He loves her by interceding for her. he steps into the fray and puts His neck out for her in front of the leading religious authorities of the day. He is her advocate. He is for her. After this, He says “Go and sin no longer,” not for some futile attempt to earn His love, but for a more full picture of His love. A life lived for Him has so much more purpose and meaning than our old selves could even wish for. Within the framework of His teachings and in the context of relationship with Him, we find the freedom that our hearts so desperately desire.
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:34-36 (emphasis added)