Caught In The Act
In culture that not only hangs its dirty laundry in public but posts a video of the soiling of it, the events of John 8:1-13 seem pretty tame.
However the motivations for the case even existing is instructive. The whole thing was a “set up” a contrivance to entrap Jesus.
The enemies of Jesus were many and powerful. The, Jews were at this time, generally divided into three sects. Pharisees, who believed in the doctrine of resurrection, and the Sadducees, who did not. The Scribes were the teachers of law and came from both the aforementioned parties.
These groups made up the leadership of the nation of Jews and were to maintain law and order for the Romans who were the ultimate civil authority at the time.
This is important because it meant that the Jews could not use the death penalty independently. All capital cases had to pass through Roman authority and then those found guilty were executed by Roman forms. The Romans apparently learned of crucifixion from the Persians. It was a method so brutal that Rome did not use it on its own citizens.
Psalm 22 which may have been written as much as 700 years before crucifixion was invented, describes in great detail and accuracy what crucifixion does to its victims. And more precisely what agonies Christ bore as He became God’s provided substitute for His chosen. (cf Eph. 1:4)
The Pharisees hoped to trap Jesus between the Law of Moses and the law of the Roman occupation.
For the trap they used a woman and I speculate that the woman was ignorant of the scheme in which she was a pawn.
Reading the passage will cause ones imagination to produce several scenarios. It seems that the perpetrators must have foreknowledge of when, where, and who. So they must have organized the event and its timing in a way best suited to their purpose and in a way that left male offender unidentified.
That being done the woman alone is subjected to public humiliation. Much like Islam which has executed a woman who was a victim of rape, the Pharisees dispense selective and partial judgement.
Like actors on a stage, they remind the bystanders of the Law of Moses as though speaking only to Jesus. This would perhaps cause them to remember Deuteronomy 22:22 which requires the stoning to death of both guilty parties.
Jesus acts as though He did not hear the Pharisees. And stooping down He writes something on the ground. I suppose it was something pertinent to the trial but we are not told what it was.
So they asked Him again to pass judgement. Feeling sure they had Him, for if He says “stone her” He will be in violation of the Roman law of occupation. And if He says. “ Let her go.” He will be in violation of the Law of Moses.
His response is, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
The results are astounding, from the oldest to the youngest in order of their ages the accusers simply melt away. One by one convicted in his own conscience of his own sin.
Jesus had already taught: Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Jesus’ challenge to the prosecution seems to be, Which of you is not guilty of the same sin? Let that person cast the first stone. Jesus is acknowledging that she does indeed, under the law, deserve to be put to death but so did every one of her accusers.
The accusers convicted but unrepentant melt away into the crowded streets of Jerusalem.
The woman is left alone with the only One present who can throw that first stone but He sends her away with the admonition; “Go and sin no more.”
I conclude she was regenerated at some point in this humiliating circumstance. And is an illustration of (Romans 8:33-34)
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”