At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
They were in the Temple. The religious leaders knew the Law and they had skillfully planned a scheme to trap Jesus using it. She meant nothing to them. She was just a pawn in their scheme—the bait used to set the trap. They honestly didn’t care what happened to her–it was all about their power and their careers.
She was petrified. Before they set the trap for Jesus, they trapped her. Regrets raced through her mind like lightning. “Why did she do it? How could she be so stupid to fall for him?”
Honestly, we don’t know what happened. The Bible doesn’t share the details of the affair with us. We don’t know what led to her committing adultery. We don’t know if she loved him or not, we don’t even know how long the affair was going on before the religious leaders decided to use her.
The only thing we do know is that she was a woman standing in the middle of a crowd waiting for her fate to be announced. She was a person with feelings and a soul. The religious leaders didn’t treat her like a person; they treated her like a tool to be used. In their self-righteous hypocrisy, they honestly didn’t care if she lived or died.
Jesus did. He had seen the religious leaders try to trap Him before, but this time they stooped to an all time low. This time their trap didn’t involve hypothetical, but a human soul. Jesus saw the cold, blackness of their hearts and knew they were just as guilty as the “sinner” they dragged before Him. He cared what happened to her.
Jesus knelt on the ground to write in the dirt. We will never know what Jesus wrote on the ground. (He didn’t choose to humiliate them publicly the way they did her.) Still, they were persistent. They were demanding an answer from Jesus.
The answer He gave them was perfect. He shifted the burden of the decision to them when He said, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
One by one they were forced to lay down their rocks and walk away. Instead of looking at what SHE had done, they had to look at what THEY did.
After her accusers dispersed, the woman was left alone with Jesus. He was the only one in the crowd who could have thrown a stone. He had no sin.
Still, Jesus was not a stonethrower. He came to give life. That’s what He offered this woman–changed life.
Jesus didn’t condemn her. Nor did He condone what she did. As they stood there, He did what was best for her eternal soul. He had saved her life from the religious leaders who wanted to kill her. Now he wanted to save her soul. He told her to stop sinning, and she needed to start living differently.
This is how Jesus deals with each of us who have sin in our lives. He does not go to the extreme of condemnation or the opposite extreme of compromise. Jesus has a solution to sin: change.
Many people prefer to go to one of the extremes. It is easy to be like the religious leaders and rip somebody apart.
Lately, I have been keenly aware of how vicious women can be against other women. Instead of supporting a woman and helping her change, many choose to be hypercritical and opinionated without knowing all the facts. Jesus doesn’t do that. He sees people’s hearts and souls and wants to help them. He sees what makes us the way we are and He wants to heal us and change us. It is easy to throw stones at people. Jesus doesn’t do that.
On the other hand, some people are so repulsed by stone throwers that they go to the opposite extreme. They take a “Jesus loves you—everything is okay” attitude. This is just as deadly as stone throwing. This is lying. This attitude doesn’t love people’s eternal souls, because if someone who is caught in sin doesn’t change, their eternal soul will end up in Hell. Jesus doesn’t condone sin.
The answer that Jesus gave to the woman caught in adultery is the answer He gives every woman caught in sin.
He doesn’t condemn us. He offers salvation and forgiveness.
Then He wants us to change. He wants us to stop sinning.
I John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.”
Jesus loves us and He wants what is best for us. Living in sin is not best for us. It will destroy our lives, our souls, and our hope for eternity. Jesus will forgive sin and He will help us, but He wants us to change.
If you are involved in a situation that is sin, you need to change. If you are in a relationship that is sin, you need to end it. It you are caught by a sinful addiction, you need to get help and overcome it. If you are hiding a secret sin that you would rather die than have anyone find out, you need to make overcoming that sin a top priority.
You may say, “Adessa, it’s not that easy.” I’m not saying that it will be. Overcoming sin can be very hard, but it is absolutely necessary to make the effort. It is God’s will that each of us be made into the image of Christ and that means we must stop sinning and change.
Here are some practical ways to get started:
1. Be honest with yourself.
Realize that what you are doing is wrong and repent. Often we are too easy on ourselves. We make excuses to make ourselves feel better about sinning. This attitude won’t help us change. We need to face the truth and realize that we are sinning against God, ourselves, and other people. Go to God and repent honestly and openly. He is ready to forgive you and help you change.
3. Find a mature Christian you can trust to hold you accountable.
Depending on what sin you are trying to overcome, you may need a Christian counselor. Either way, having a mature, godly Christian that will hold you accountable will help you change and keep you from returning to the sin you are trying to overcome. If you are making major life changes, they can help you decipher through good and bad decisions. Don’t let embarrassment keep you from asking for help. Anyone who truly loves God will see your desire to change and be thrilled to help you reach your goal.
Ultimately, we do not know the end of the story of the woman caught in adultery. I hope that she obeyed Jesus and changed her life. It was her choice.
Each of us has this same choice. Jesus wants to offer us forgiveness and a life change that will be for our good. We decide whether we obey Him or not. I hope you will choose to obey Him. I hope that today will be the day that you decide to stop sinning and start a new life. Jesus loves you and He wants to help you. The choice is yours.
To Read More About Jesus, and how He feels about you, read, "Finding Significance"