1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 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. 7 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.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 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. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Personal Reflection and Discussion
1. This is a well-known and greatly loved story in the Gospels. It, however, is not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts that we have of John’s Gospel. The story raises a number of interesting questions:
a. Why is only the woman and not also the man brought before Jesus?
b. Why did Jesus kneel or bend down when the woman was brought to him? What might have been done for the woman?
c. What did Jesus write on the ground with His finger?
d. Why did Jesus stand back up when he addressed the crowd? What effect would that have had?
e. Why did the older accusers leave first, and why was no one left to accuse?
f. Why did Jesus kneel again as the accusers left one by one and stand again when He addressed the woman?
g. Why does Jesus offer forgiveness before He instructs the woman to leave her life of sin?
2. Which of the above questions do you find most intriguing? Why? Most surprising? Why?
3. What lesson(s) do you think Jesus would have us learn from this story?
Jesus, this story is not found in the earliest known Greek manuscripts, but I know of no English translation of the Bible that does not include it. The story is well known and valued throughout Christendom. The woman is brought publicly before You. As she stands before You, her guilt is obvious. Her accusers pose a question regarding how to deal with her guilt. They seek to put You in a position of betraying Your nature and Your message of God’s love, that You have come not to condemn, but to save, or of betraying the Law commanded by Moses. As she stands before You, interestingly, You choose to kneel before her. In Your kneeling, You are in effect empowering her as she now towers above You. You begin writing in the dirt. Some speculate You are writing the names of her accusers. As they continue taunting You with questions, You stand, straightening Yourself. In effect You are resuming a position of power and authority and with a simple statement, You lay the burden of guilt on the woman’s accusers: “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then You again kneel and continue writing as the group disperses one by one, the oldest ones first. Each is silently forced to acknowledge his own sin. After all have left, leaving the woman alone with You, You stand and ask the woman about her accusers. She indicates there is no one left to condemn her, and You tell her that you don’t condemn her either. After announcing Your forgiveness or pardon, You instruct her to leave or change her sinful lifestyle. It is important to note Your forgiveness or pardon is not predicated on her changing her lifestyle. Your forgiveness precedes Your instruction to change. A change of behavior is the result of forgiveness, not the cause or reason for it. Grace births faith, and obedience comes as faith becomes active in love. Inact in us the same Spirit.
Greek Word of the Day
English Word: condemn | Transliterated Word: katakrino (kat-ak-ree-no)
To judge against, sentence. To pronounce sentence against, condemn, with an explicit punishment
Family Engagement Activity
Today, grab a stone and then chuck it at….just kidding. Today’s goal is to teach your kids that all have sinned except Jesus. We learn that Christ came to love others and His love is above the law. Teach them that He has every right to judge us based on our sin, that our sin should condemn us, but His grace is supreme! Here are some ideas:
- Talk about this story with your kids and keep a stone either somewhere in the house or have each family member carry around a small rock in their pocket for a week, reminding them of three things: 1) we all sin 2) our sin leads to death if unforgiven 3) Jesus forgives
- Have a contest! Rotate contestants and judges per round and judge some fun activities. Who can draw the best picture, who can play the best air guitar, best circus acts, etc., and then take turns being a judge. Talk about how it’s not our position to be casting out guilty verdicts, but to love people no matter what.
- Prepare by having some funny, yet short, YouTube videos ready to be watched. Gather the family and watch half of a video. Stop the video before the funny thing happens and see if the family can guess what happens next. Talk about how the Pharisees tried to put a fork in the road for Jesus, and the next thing that happened was him proving himself to be who he was over and over again.
- Consider having each of your kids think about different ways that they condemn others. Have them write these or draw a picture of these things. Without them looking, write the words “Loved By God” on the other side where they can’t see it. Then tape these somewhere with the “Loved By God” side not showing. Tell them it’s time for some target practice. Grab some rocks or balls and have target practice, but make sure to use something not living. You can make it into a game (who hits their paper the most, who hits it first). After the game, show them the other side and talk to them about what Jesus does differently. Ask them if Jesus judged the way we judge, how would we fair? Hang these pictures up around the house for the week as a reminder. Remind them that they are forgiven because God loves them.
Going Activities To Consider
Today, what rocks are you carrying? Find some rocks and write down some of the types of things or specific people you wrongfully condemn and lay down those rocks. Pray for strength and patience to not throw rocks anymore.
Are you deserving of rocks? Write down some names of people you have wronged and then with a marker, write “Forgiven!” over every wrongdoing. Know that Christ came to forgive and restore. Believe it!