by Peter Solomon
Welcome to this Bible Study. I hope that you will enjoy this lesson and that it will be a blessing to you spiritually. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
The Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin, had failed in their attempt to have Jesus arrested. The session where they discussed this ever present “Jesus” issue ended with their not being able to decide what to do.
Their plot had failed, so they would have to come up with some new idea to get rid of Jesus permanently.
Verse 53 And everyone went to his own house.
By nightfall the temple courts were silent except for a few Levites who were on duty throughout the night. The members of the Sanhedrin went home to sleep on the problem of “Jesus” and perhaps one of them would have a brain wave and come up with a solution to their problem.
Verse 1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus, instead of going home to Bethany to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, where He normally stayed, went to the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives was about 60 metres above the temple site, so from there Jesus could look down on the temple and the city.
Jesus went there to calm Himself down, to pray and to prepare himself for whatever happened the next day. Note that at any time when an important decision was to be made, Jesus went alone up a nearby mountain to pray.
Do you have a place where you can go alone to pray? It may be hard to find such a place, but try to find one, and when you do, go there whenever you need to draw alone with God.
A TRICKY QUESTION
Then one of the members of the Sanhedrin saw through the shadows a married woman committing adultery. It was early in the morning and the Pharisee who never normally wanted to get involved, saw the opportunity to trick Jesus and destroy Jesus’ reputation. He summoned some of his friends and dragged the woman off to where he knew Jesus would be that morning, in the temple.
Verse 2 Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
The sun was rising as Jesus entered the temple the next day. On the previous day He had just stood and taught the people John 7:37, but that day Jesus sat on one of the temple steps and began to teach.
The rabbis liked to sit when they taught because it was generally understood in those days that when one sat and taught, that person had great authority. Soon a large crowd gathered and Jesus began teaching them.
Verse 3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
The Pharisee had enlisted the help of the scribes, for the scribes were trained experts in the application of the Old Testament laws.
They all knew that Jesus was known for forgiving sinners and so they wondered what He would do in this case, a clear case that demanded the death penalty.
Verse 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
The Pharisee in question did not have to look very far to find a woman committing adultery, for this was just after the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was more like a happy national celebration of joy, and many immoral acts occurred during their merrymaking. The scribes and Pharisees barged through the crowd dragging the woman in front of Jesus while He was still busy speaking to those before Him.
Verse 5 “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
The scribes and the Pharisees twisted the Law to suit their own circumstances. The Law said that only a virgin engaged to be married was to be stoned, Deuteronomy 22:23-24 and further that both parties should be killed. Leviticus 20:10 As she was a married woman the Law did not state how she should be killed, but the custom then was that someone caught in adultery would be strangled and not stoned.
Verse 6a This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.
Remember that the Jews handled the civic and religious affairs of the country but the Romans who had conquered the country in a military offensive controlled the judicial affairs of the country. Only the Romans could pass the death sentence, John 18:31 which was only by crucifixion. If Jesus said “Yes” to the stoning He would be in conflict with the Roman authorities, and if Jesus said “No” He would be in conflict with the laws of the Old Testament.
A QUESTION OF CONSCIENCE
The devil is very clever, for he knows the situations we face so well that he “tailors” the temptation to suit the situation as he did here. What the scribes and Pharisees, as influenced by the devil, were trying to do was to break Jesus’ credibility, Jesus’ reputation, and if they did that people would not want to listen to Jesus any more.
Verse 6b But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
Jesus did not like the question they put to Him at all, for He disliked anything immoral and strongly disliked speaking on the subject. So Jesus pretended not to hear them, biding His time by writing on the ground. This is the only time that the Gospels mention Jesus writing.
Verse 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
Jesus did not have to wait very long, for the scribes and Pharisees were anxious to get an answer. So they asked Him the question again.
Normally the witness would cast the first stone Deuteronomy 17:7 but if the witness gave a false testimony he himself would be stoned. Deuteronomy 19:18-19 Jesus said anyone who was innocent of any sin must cast the first stone. Jesus knew that the scribes’ and Pharisees’ sin was greater than the woman’s because of their continual perversion.
Verse 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Jesus sitting, bends down to the ground and starts writing again. Jesus wanted the scribes and Pharisees to think about what they had said to Him and think about His reply to them. Jesus was giving her accusers time to think and then leave quietly.
Verse 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Remember what Jesus was constantly teaching that inner purity is more important than an outward show of purity like the Pharisees. The old men left first because during their lifetimes they had had more time to think impure thoughts than the younger men. So the woman was left standing there with none of her accusers by her.
Jesus is God, and as God he can look into our lives and see all our secret sins that no one else knows anything about. What Jesus requires of anyone claiming to be a Christian is not to think impure thoughts, knowing that impure thoughts lead to impure acts. Purity of mind and action are what Jesus wants His followers to have more than anything else. Here Jesus acts as the woman’s judge but He does not condemn her.
Verse 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
Jesus dismisses the woman because there are no witnesses to accuse her. But one day when Jesus returns she will still have to stand before Jesus as her judge, just as we all will have to do one day.
Verse 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Jesus did not condone or forgive her life of sin, but rather He leaves her in the same position as she was when she came before Him, an adulteress. Forgiveness must be deserved. Jesus will only forgive our sins if we ask Him when we are sorry for having done these sins, not otherwise. The only hope for the woman, and for us, is to have a change of heart and lifestyle. Such a change of heart and lifestyle can only be found in true salvation through Jesus Christ.
Points for consideration
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In this article all Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used with permission.