Monday, July 2, 2018
“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, . . . ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.’” John 8:3-4 (NKJV).
“Caught . . . in the very act.” How embarrassing. Her companion? Fleet footed, or party to a setup? Your guess is as good as mine. One thing is clear. The righteous did apprehend her. The Law of Moses stated that both parties in an adulterous affair must be stoned (Leviticus 20:10). Setup or not, she was sufficient for their purpose to put before Jesus. The carpenter chose to address their unspoken sins rather than deal with the woman’s present one. Their shame scattered them. What followed has motivated some to claim John 8:3-11 is a scribe’s addition rather than God’s inclusion. There are objections to this passage being an actual event. Was it? What may be bothersome to some is that Jesus’ doesn’t march to our tune?
She was charged with adultery. Jesus does not question the charge’s veracity. There is no denial from her. No questions from the crowd. The Law of Moses was correctly quoted. The guilty and all present knew her punishment. Jesus did not suggest that the Law be ignored, nor the consequences diminished! The woman did not ask for mercy. Grace was not discussed. All knew the outcome. All Jesus had to do was acknowledge the quote and step away from the accused. He surprised all. The earth became his iPad. At first the righteous thought he was deaf. What he scribbled was deleted with that day’s breeze. The righteous accusers faded into history with their private thoughts!
Jesus asked, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours! Has no one condemned you?” (V.10). Her reply was, “No one, Lord.” (V.11). What follows is the “hook” which some reject as false. Jesus stated, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (V.11). That is why modern scribes want to mentally add to Jesus’ statement because what he said does not fit present theology! It needs something, and modern believers feel a “scriptural” need to add to it!
What did Jesus NOT say which he should have stated when addressing that adulterous woman? He said, “Neither do I condemn you” (V.11). Does the passage say she asked him for forgiveness? Did anyone in the passage use the word “repent”? Is there a prayer offered asking God to forgive her? Someone may believe that the words “repent,” “forgiveness,” and “prayer” are included in the five words “Go and sin no more.” Try that some Sunday morning when a person who needs to respond to the invitation, doesn’t, but you tell the audience, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” You will be fortunate if your work as the preacher isn’t jeopardized by such a response. Good luck if no one questions your “blunder”! Wouldn’t you be asked, “Who repented? Who confessed their wrongdoings? Who asked for prayers? Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” Did she repent prior to Jesus’ statement? Silence is our answer! Did she ask for forgiveness? Silence again! Did she ask for prayer? Nothing but silence! Jesus did not mention repentance, much less demand it. His reply was, “Neither do I condemn you.” What kind of reply is that coming from the Son of God? Is he condoning her adultery? Is he ignoring the teaching of God’s word? Why didn’t his apostles correct him? Would you, if you had been there?
Why did Jesus not use the word “repent” in conversation with that guilty woman? At least on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:43)! That dialogue was not needed, or Jesus would have used it. The woman’s accusers were no longer there to carry out the Law’s punishment. Jesus, nor anyone in his crowd was an eye witness. Neither Jesus nor they were charging the woman with adultery. Since they did not see the “crime” they had no authority by the Law of Moses to carry out the punishment without the presence of her accusers! Something in Jesus’ statement, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first,” sent those righteous men on more important duties elsewhere (John 8:7).
It is interesting that Jesus also stated to the woman, “Go and sin no more.” He did not witness her adultery, so why does he tell her, “Don’t do it again”? He is not negating the testimony that has been brought against her. But, since her eye witnesses are no longer present to carry out the punishment, Jesus nor anyone else can do what those eye witnesses have failed to do. Jesus and his audience complied to the Law and dropped the matter.
Sometimes grace is demonstrated rather than Law! Jesus used the imperfection of those righteous accusers to make that grace happen! The Law was trumped by grace! Isn’t that what the Good News (gospel) is all about?
You and I are sinners (Romans 3:10, 23). Our sins deserve the payment of death. That means eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). We don’t have the righteousness needed to pay that sin debt! But, Jesus came to take our place and die for our past, present, and future sins. He provided a way for our sins to be continually cleansed so we don’t lose fellowship with the him or the Father through our fleshly weakness (Romans 7:24)! Law says you are guilty and must die! Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.” Why? He knows we are without perfection. We are experts at stumbling! So, God made it possible for us to be redeemed and His payment for us is called “GRACE”! That grace provides Jesus’ blood, like a river, it surrounds us and keeps us cleansed.
Good News folks! Good News!