This is my sermon on John 8 where I talk about the woman caught in the act of adultery and forgiveness. You can listen to the recording of the sermon below or read my notes, which are reasonably close to my sermon. You can also subscribe to the podcast to get these delivered to you automagically.
The Woman caught in Sin
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?”
Here is the part of the Mosaic Law they were thinking of. I’m sure there is more from the Mishnah and Talmud on this, and that would be on their minds too.
24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
Their desire was the purge the evil from their land. They wanted to obey the Law, but they were obviously not doing it quite right. They made it look like they wanted to obey the law, which is the worst kind of religion. James says that you show your faith by your works, but they were just trying to do works to make it look like they had faith.
The very next verse exposes their motives.
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,
Don’t you love it how Jesus argues with them? Does He retaliate and bring this point and that point? Does He shout them down and shut them up?
Nope. He lets them carry on and dig themselves deeper and deeper into the hole.
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
That was all He said! Then He goes back to ignoring them.
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.”
He didn’t beat her up or rub her face in her sin! By asking her “where are they?” He drew her attention to the fact that they were all sinners too. You only have shame and condemnation from others if you receive it. Instead, receive your forgiveness from Jesus and stop sinning.
What do you think purged the evil from the land better on that day? Corrupt law-keepers bringing that lady in to kill without the man, or Jesus setting her free from a near-death experience?
Jesus’ Perfect Love, Observed by John
The same John that wrote down these events wrote a letter known as First John. In it he describes the love of God that is going on here.
1 John 4:13–18
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
That is the LOVE with which Jesus loved us. Perfected and free.
Then Jesus gives a commentary on what had just happened. It might not be right afterward, chronologically, but as John is recording the story, he is led by the Holy Spirit to put these in together.
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.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.