That Woman in John 8

That Woman!

Random (Rough) Thoughts from the first twelve verses of John 8.

The Where.

  • John 7:53-8:11 ESV
    • [[They went each to his own house, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.
  • Verse 1 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives
    • The first to note is how all the people had returned to their homes (7:53) Jesus went to the Mount of Olives (8:1). They went to their homes and he went to his place of rest. See Matthew 8:19-22
      • 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.

The Time

  • Verse 2a Early in the morning he came to the temple.
    • Jesus was not to sleep late into the morning.
      • “…the Mount of Olives opposite the temple” See the larger context (Mark 13:1-3a ESV)
    • Note the location of temple. It was opposite the Mt of Olives. Not a great distance.

The Who

  • Verse 2b All the people came to him
    • All the people. Certainly this is not implying that all of Israel, both Israel and Judah, were in his presence. The saying is simply implying that lots and lots of people sought to hear him teach.
  • Verse 2c and he sat down and taught them
    • Note that he was not standing to be heard. He was seated and from that position he taught them. We hardly ever see a man teach without standing. Why is this?
      • (See Matthew 13:54) “…and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works'”
    • What was it like to be taught by the Master, even God in the flesh?
      • God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4
        • From John Piper on Hebrews 1:1-2. “Let’s begin with a question? Do you want to hear God speak? Have you ever said in a moment of desperation, “O God, if you would only speak! If I could only hear your voice. If you would only talk to me and not be so silent!” I have said those words. And I have found the Lord patient with me and tender in his rebukes. One of the rebukes I have heard is found in Hebrews 1:1–2. What these two verses teach very loudly and plainly is that God is not silent. God is not withdrawn and uncommunicative. They teach us that God has spoken in two phases: before the coming of the Son of God into the world and through the Son of God’s coming into the world. Read them again: ‘God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.'”
          [http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/in-these-last-days-god-has-spoken-by-a-son]

The Prosecutors

  • Verse 3a. The scribes and the Pharisees
    • In the New Testament period the scribes were the professional interpreters of the Law in the Jewish synagogues.
    • The Pharisees were held in much higher esteem by the common man than the Sadducees. Though they were a minority in the Sanhedrin and held a minority number of positions as priests, they seemed to control the decision making of the Sanhedrin far more than the Sadducees did, again because they had the support of the people.Religiously, they accepted the written Word as inspired by God. At the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, this would have been what is now our Old Testament. But they also gave equal authority to oral tradition and attempted to defend this position by saying it went all the way back to Moses. Evolving over the centuries, these traditions added to God’s Word, which is forbidden (Deuteronomy 4:2), and the Pharisees sought to strictly obey these traditions along with the Old Testament. The Gospels abound with examples of the Pharisees treating these traditions as equal to God’s Word (Matthew 9:14; 15:1-9; 23:5; 23:16, 23, Mark 7:1-23; Luke 11:42). However, they did remain true to God’s Word in reference to certain other important doctrines. In contrast to the Sadducees, they believed the following:
      1. They believed that God controlled all things, yet decisions made by individuals also contributed to the course of a person’s life.
      2. They believed in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6).
      3. They believed in an afterlife, with appropriate reward and punishment on an individual basis.
      4. They believed in the existence of angels and demons (Acts 23:8).

      Though the Pharisees were rivals of the Sadducees, they managed to set aside their differences on one occasion—the trial of Christ.

      [Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/Sadducees-Pharisees.html]

The Test

  • Verse 3b. (they) brought a woman who had been caught in adulteryJesus writing in the earth.
    • The scripture does not reveal who this woman is. What we do know is that she was caught in the very act of adultery. We do not believe this charge was trumped up by these men.
  • Verse 3c-4. and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.”
    • Look at the scene before us. There is Jesus, who is at the center of such a large gathering on the temple grounds. Then there are those who were seeking to be taught of Jesus. But now, bursting upon the scene, they present this woman they have captured before Jesus and the large gathering.
    • Adultery. Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband; also : an act of adultery.
      [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adultery]
  • Verse 5. (They said) Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women
    • Are they being truthful? Let’s hear what Moses actually said.
    • Leviticus 20:10
      • “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death”
    • Deuteronomy 22:22
      • “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.”
    • It should be obvious that the Scribes and the Pharisees were very selective in their reading of the two passages. They left out the fact that both the man and the woman who were caught in the act of adultery were to be put to death. Where is the man who was also caught with this woman in the act of adultery?
    • Twisting the word of God is a lie of the worse sort. The consequences are great and of a worse nature than that of adultery. See Revelation 22:19.
      • I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
    • Evil judgement is sin. See Isaiah 5:21, 23.
      • 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! … 23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right.
    • According to the Scribes and Pharisees Moses has spoken, “So (Jesus) what do you say?”

What do you say?

  • Verse 6. This they said to test him
    • There is another one who put the Son of God, the Righteous Judge, to test in the Gospels. Do you remember who it is? See Matthew 4:1-3.
      • Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.
    • Why were they so threatened by this young miracle working rabbi? He did only good to those who sought him out. If they cannot see obvious sin in this Jesus then why do you go to extremes to entrap him?
    • Listen to how they said about Jesus on yet another attempt to find him worthy of death. See Mark 12:13-17.
      • And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.
    • They admitted that he was seeking the approval of others and that he truly taught the way of God. They have indicted themselves before God. See Matthew 12:36-37.
      • 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.
    • They wanted to catch him in a sin. See the beginning to the middle of verse 6.
      • “This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.”

Jesus’ Response

  • Verses 7-11. The rout.
    • At first it appeared that it was the woman who was on trial but the truth is that the Son of God is on trial. But let there be no doubt, immediately after they had stoned Jesus to death they would have stoned this woman. How Jesus responds is rather unique. See the last part of verse 6.
      • “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.”
    • I’m in a long line of speculators. Ever since Jesus wrote with his finger on the ground just about every student of the Bible has ventured a guess as to what Jesus wrote in the sand. I personally believe Jesus wrote nothing more than the two quotes we read from Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22. That would be sufficient to turn the tables on these men.
    • Note that these self-righteous men pestered Jesus for a reply. They assumed they had trapped him and he was in their net. They were looking to the kill. See verse 7a.
      • “And as they continued to ask him.”
    • The verse continues and we are told that Jesus stood up to give his response. By now all had read the words Jesus inscribed in the sand. See verse 7b.
      • 7b he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
    • Now we know that whatever Jesus wrote in the earth, it was dynamite. Perhaps he wrote the following one or more passages from their own Law. (See Deut 16:18-20; 27:26)
      • Deuteronomy 16:18-20 18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. 20 Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
      • Deuteronomy 27:26 “‘Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them. ’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen”.
    • In Galatians 3:10 the apostle Paul had in mind Deut 27:26.
      • For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.

Jesus is relentless.

  • Verse 8. But if that was not enough the word tells us in verse 8:
    • “And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.”
  • When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil (their father) he used the word of God to defeat Satan. Read the account in Matthew 4:1-11.
    • 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
      “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
      but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. ’”

      5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
      “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
      and
      “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
      lest you strike your foot against a stone. ’”
      7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” *8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then *Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
      “‘You shall worship the Lord your God
      and him only shall you serve. ’”

      11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
  • I can’t be dogmatic here. You may or may not be convinced of what I have posited, but whether you do or not, I believe the idea here is simple. I’m convinced Jesus used the Jew’s own Law, not once but twice, to convict these hypocrites of their own sin.
  • We do know this for sure. Jesus disarmed both his and her accusers. See verse 9a.
    • But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones…

Alone with Jesus.

  • Verse 9.Ultimately the final Judge is Jesus. Pray he stands with you and not against you. He is the Righteous Judge of all men. See the last part of verse 9.
    • “…and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him”
  • Now put yourself in that woman’s shoes for a moment. You know you are guilty as sin. You also know that if Jesus picked up and threw a stone in your direction he would be right in doing so.
  • You remember what we read in verse 7?
    • 7b “…let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
  • Though He alone does not pick up a stone. If anyone was without sin it was Jesus. And he did not condemn you. See John 8:10.
    • Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
  • What a deep sense of relief she had to have when all of her accusers left. Did the crowds leave as well? Her accusers have all left but surely the crowd is looking on in amazement. (See verse 12.) What have they just witnessed?
    • Again Jesus spoke to them, saying…

Peace with Jesus is Peace with God

  • Verse 10. At this point we want to consider is one of the most remarkable statements in the Gospels. What Jesus says next has been heard by every born again Christian in one way or another. See verse 10.
    • Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

Application

  • Look what happens next. See verse 11.
    • She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
  • What was the accused’s name? My dear saints, it was your name. It was my name. Guilty, but not condemned.
  • Dear Saint of God, Have you seen yourself in that woman’s shoes? Have you seen yourself in her accuser’s shoes? Have you seen yourself in the crowd?
  • Dear Friend, Have you seen Jesus, the friend of sinners and saints alike?
    • John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
    • John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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Our Author
Presently our brother serves as the lead pastor of Sovereign Grace Fellowship located just north of Concord, NH. Ordained in 1988 he served fourteen years as senior pastor for Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Salem, New Hampshire. Over the years he has ministered at conferences and speaking engagements in New England and several church conferences held in the Caribbean including Trinidad and Tobago, St Maarten, St Johns, St Thomas. Moe is married to Karan. They have five grown children and ten grandchildren. On the Internet Moe is considered an online pioneer for Christian ministries. In 2005 he established PipersNotes.com which served as the online library for Dr. John Piper’s sermons. He has also served Dr D.A. Carson’s ChristWay Media and several additional ministries.
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