Today’s Reading: John 8:1-20 (additional reading: Psalm 110:1-7 & Proverbs 15:8-10)
They were absolutely right. According to Deut 22:22 she deserved to be sentenced to death and executed for what she had done. We normally comment on the absence of the man in this case – according to the law he was just as guilty and deserving of death as she was – but the fact that he was not arrested (perhaps he had been able to jump out of the window and run away) does not alter the woman’s guilt. She deserved to be punished, with or without the man.
Jesus’ enemies had sprung an excellent trap for him. He would be caught out either way. He would have to break one set of laws. Which one would it be? The law of God or the law of Rome that forbade the Jewish nation to carry out the death penalty. They were killing two birds with one stone. They were dealing with this sinful woman and also discrediting or getting rid of this troublesome preacher. However Jesus’ response was not what they expected. They had hoped to snare him, to get ammunition in their attempts to discredit or destroy him – instead they snared themselves.
This story shows us the two different ways in which Christ deals with sin and with sinners. Philip Yancey, in his book ‘what’s so amazing about grace?’ comments that this incident illustrates that the world is not divided into righteous and unrighteous people but into sinners who admit that they are sinners and sinners who deny that they are sinners. Just some sins are secret and hidden and some sins are confessed.
When we come to Christ and as our Christian lives progress, we become more and more aware of little imperfections in our own lives. That angry thought here, that little bit of dishonesty there. Those things, often unknown to the world at large, that are not quite right in our own lives. When that happens we have two options. We can slip away, mingle with the crowd, try to ignore this divine niggle and to maintain appearances with other people or even convince ourselves that we are really righteous, good people, or we can come to Christ again and face him with our acknowledged sin.
The woman was just as guilty as the Pharisees. But there was a crucial difference. The Pharisees pretended to be pure and holy. That option was not available to the woman. She had been caught red-handed and could not keep it a secret. She could have tried to deny the charge against her, but by her silence she admitted it.
But instead of the condemnation that she was probably expecting, she was told that she was not condemned. Jesus did not in any way condone or lessen her sin, he did not tell that what she did was OK, he acknowledged the seriousness of her sin – but he did not condemn, he forgave. ‘go and sin no more’. This incident beautifully illustrates 1 John 1:8-9:-8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)