The Adulteress

"But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. And 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. And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. 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." And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she had been, in the midst. And straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you? And she said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more." - John 8: 1-11

So here we have the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. She broke a direct commandment from God…one of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not commit adultery” – Ex 20:14, Deut 5:18. And the crowd wanted to exercise the law concerning such people; the law commanded by Moses: “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” – Lev 20:10

There it is in Black and White. It’s right there in the Bible, the infallible Word of God. Game over. No ifs, ands or buts. And Jesus HIMSELF said He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it - Matt 5:17. The crowd was ready to execute punishment onto this woman as directed by Moses.

But Jesus goes against them!

What gives? Aren’t they all fulfilling the holy commandments of God and of Moses? Well…being the Son of God…Jesus is the Ruler of the Law. Jesus had also broken the other commandment of keeping the Sabbath by picking the heads of grain to eat and healing the man with a withered hand.- Matt 12:1-14.

Why? Because Jesus wants us to know something greater than just following the laws to the letter: love, goodness, compassion and forgiveness. And note, that the woman had not said anything during the exchange. She didn’t even ask Jesus to help her nor did she expect Him to stand up for her because she knew she was guilty. But Jesus stands up for her anyway, without her consent. He even forgives her sin, without her asking Him to. He stood up for her, protecting her physically and spiritually.

Jesus was against the vicious ugliness of the people wanting to kill her while quoting Scripture and using the name of the Lord to destroy others. Jesus Himself stopped them in their tracks and told them that before they decide to stone her, they should look at their own sin…and when they heard this, they knew that if they didn’t shut up soon they would all be candidates for stoning as well.

And what do you suppose Jesus was writing on the ground? I believe, that just as God had written the Ten Commandments with His own finger, Jesus was writing with His finger the new commandment of love, mercy and compassion.

By leaving the scene, all the men were admitting that they were exactly as the adulteress, but if you notice, as they snuck out, none would admit that to Jesus. Their pride and shame prevent them from admitting their sin to Him.

By the way, where was the man who committed adultery? Why wasn’t he brought out also? I suspect the man was a friend of theirs and since women are always blamed for sexual infidelity, she "deserved" the punishment while the man was probably quietly ignored and disappeared for a while. In the same way, many Christians quietly forgive their own divorced members or those who sleep around or commit adultery yet scream that God will refuse gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into His Kingdom.

And the significance of Jesus and the woman left alone? Because that is ultimately what it comes down to. You and Jesus. Our spiritual relationship is with Jesus alone. The Jesus who loves us.

Jesus says one last thing to the woman, “From now on sin no more”. Jesus doesn’t justify her sinful nature, but asks that she walk in His love on the path of God, giving compassion as she had received compassion and to live a life of righteousness. A higher life than she has witnessed from her persecutors. A life that is above just “following the rules.” A spiritual life based on the higher spiritual laws of God.

But is her forgiveness conditional to her ability to live rightly? What if she failed? Would her forgiveness be removed? Jesus has never taken away grace that He has bestowed to anyone because of their inability to live up to the law. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” - Romans 11: 6

The woman was forgiven for good and I suspect she was an ordinary person who tried and still sinned in her life but the difference was she was saved by the grace of God. People will argue that she remained sinless until the end…that she lived a life of a saint. Though I’m sure she was aided by the Holy Spirit and lived a holy life, she was not sinless, but rather she was forgiven of her sin by the blood of Christ. There is a difference.

It is because of the grace of Jesus that we remain in the Kingdom. If salvation were conditional to our current state of behavior, then we would ALL be next in line for stoning. Jesus knows we are not perfect, but has forgiven us anyway. Jesus does NOT give and take away His love and forgiveness as a reward for deeds done. Jesus’ forgiveness is permanent.
Because of His gift of forgiveness to us we seek to live a life of integrity and righteousness in His honor.

How do you think Jesus would respond today to the Christian mobs attacking gay people while quoting Scripture? “God hates gays. There it is in Black and White. It’s right there in Bible, the infallible Word of God. Game over. No ifs, ands or buts. You’re an abomination!”

What God finds an abomination is how we all treat each other…as quick judges and executioners lacking compassion and understanding. But we GLBT Christians look to the Lawmaker Jesus to answer back to them. And like the adulteress, our savior and redeemer Jesus doesn’t condemn us but loves us with His eternal love.

The woman never asked for help from Jesus, yet He defended her. How much more is Jesus standing up for us. And though most will say to us that Jesus said, “From now on sin no more”, we do not consider our orientation a sin that we can ask forgiveness for or repent of. Though most of us did try, God did not change us and we came to understand that this is who we are, that this gift of sexuality is indeed that, a GIFT. And though we don’t believe adultery and homosexual orientation are the same, people will still use Jesus’ words to condemn us. So rather we confess and repent from our sin of rebellion to live a life of integrity for Jesus who sacrificed Himself for us. Praise to Jesus! He is mighty and worthy of our praise!


© 2004 Edrick

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