This short drama is inserted in the middle of Jesus’ discourses during the Feast of Tabernacles. Many scholars debate where this story belongs, or if it should even be in the Bible at all .
This story is also beloved by many people in our culture, many who may not know much more about Jesus. It is popular to compare people today with either the guilty woman or the accusing Pharisees. Most of these comparisons are made in ways to make the storyteller look good. But very few people who tell this story realize who this story is really about.
It is about Jesus.
Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives where he had spent the night on the open ground. He came to the temple and began teaching the people about the the Kingdom of God. As was often the case, his teaching was interrupted by a real-life application.
A commotion in the crowd stops his teaching. Out of that commotion comes a gang of Pharisees and their scribes, dragging a woman with them. They set the woman in front of Jesus and announce that she has been caught in adultery. They remind Jesus that the law of Moses commands that she be stoned to death, but what does he say?
The Pharisees laid a trap for Jesus. God is just, and if Jesus declares God’s Justice, then she must be stoned. This would break the Roman law and destroy Jesus’ reputation for compassion.
But God is also merciful. If Jesus declares God’s mercy, then she would go free. But for Jesus to do so would break the law of Moses and destroy Jesus claims to be the Messiah.
How do you reconcile God’s justice and his mercy?
Jesus reconciled this for woman in the same way that he reconciles his justice and mercy for you and I. She sinned. She broke God’s law. She was guilty. The punishment was death.
Someone would die.
The accusers would not find the justice they were seeking. It took Jesus to only remind them of their own sin for them to walk away, one by one. They did not press the charges, but they also did not ask for forgiveness. The simply walked away. The entire crowd left.
Many people like to end the story with the accusers leaving, but they miss the woman’s restoration. Jesus never skipped over her sins. Instead, he left her with a command, “Go and sin no more”.
“You are restored, now stop wasting your life.”
It will be less than six months away that Jesus will pay for this woman’s sin. He will also pay for your sin and for my sin. He will pay for the sins of the whole world.
Stop wasting your life!
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