John 8:1-12 - The Light of the World, Woman Caught in Adultery
When the rulers of the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to have Jesus arrested by the temple guards John 7:32, 45-49), they immediately devised a plot to trap him. This plot is the most despicable action by these men recorded in the Gospels. At the same time, it became an occasion by which Jesus not only revealed the depth of His justice, wisdom, and compassion but also provided a message of hope and great peace for those who come to Him.
1. In John 8 Christ Reveals Himself To Be The Light Of Life.
a. Man is seen gripped by sin (illustrated by the woman taken in adultery and by hypocritical religionists). Man is pictured as being critical, condemnatory, self-righteous, and adulterous—every single person sinful.
b. In the woman man is seen as adulterous and guilty—living a life of darkness, without purpose and meaning and significance.
c. In the religionists man is seen as deceitful, critical, condemnatory, selfish, self-righteous, and loaded with guilt. Not a single religionist is seen to be free from the darkness of serious sin. Jesus reveals Himself to be the Light of the World, the One who brings liberty, forgiveness, purpose, meaning, and significance to the life of man.
2. There Are Textual Questions on John 7:53 through 8:11.
a. From manuscript current evidence, it seems unlikely that this portion (7:53-8:11) was part of the original text of John’s gospel, or at least in this place.
i. The majority of ancient Greek manuscripts omit this section
ii. Many later manuscripts mark this section with asterisks
iii. One group of manuscripts inserts it after Luke 21:38
iv. A few have this section after John 21:24, and one has it after John 7:36
1. All this shows that ancient scribes were ignorant of its exact position, but were anxious to retain it in the gospel records. They knew it belonged, but they didn’t exactly know where.
b. Some ancient Christians (like Augustine and Ambrose) omitted this story, not so much because of the textual evidence, but because they thought it made Jesus appear to condone sexual immorality.
c. At the same time, the character of the story makes it seem obvious that it is genuine, and most scholars note that it is historical and factual. Early Christian writers mention this event as soon as the early second century (100 A.D.). We have every reason to believe that this actually happened, and that John really wrote this.
A. The Life Of Jesus
1. A Picture of Jesus’ Life (8:1-2)
a) But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives (8:1)… early in the morning He came into the temple (8:2a)… and He sat down and taught (8:2b).
1) His Life Of Devotion, Worship, Mission And Teaching.
(a) He made time to spend with His Father (Luke 5:16)
(b) Going into the temple early in the morning demonstrated His life of worship (Ps.5:1-3)
(c) Jesus’ ministry was also that of teaching and ministering to people (John 18:20)
B. A Sinner Jesus Forgives—The Savoir and the Prostitute (8:1-11)
1. The Connivers (8:1-4): “To cooperate secretly in an illegal or wrongful action; To scheme; plot.”
a) The Accusers - brought to Him a woman caught in adultery (v.3a)
1) These Men Used This Woman As A Weapon Against Jesus.
(a) They cared nothing for true righteousness, because it’ evident that they set her up. Why? If they cared for righteousness, where is the man?
(b) It’s possible that the man was one of their own number, and was simply setting the woman up as a pawn in their conflict with Jesus.
(c) The Pharisees are after bigger game, the One who breaks their Sabbath with healings and claims to come from God. Jesus is the prey, and this poor lost woman is only their means to stir Him up.
(d) The Pharisees are willing to entrap and execute a woman in order to discredit Jesus, by using this woman as bait on a hook in order to trap Jesus.
2) Dehumanizing People—Meaning: To deprive of human qualities such as individuality, compassion, or civility:
When we treat people as things, we dehumanize them and destroy something precious inside them. The scribes and Pharisees were not looking at this woman as a person but as a thing—an instrument whereby they could formulate a charge against Jesus. To them she had no name, no personality, no heart, no feelings, no soul. When you use people for your own pleasure or to prove your point, even a religious point, you are treating those people as things to be used instead of human beings to be loved. And this greatly dishonors the One in whose image they were made!
b) The Accused – the woman caught in the very act of adultery (v.3b-4)
1) In The Ten Commandments God Emphatically Prohibited Adultery when He said, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).
2) The Sin of Adultery was worthy of death (Leviticus 20:10; Deut.22:13-24)
(a) Under Mosaic Law, when a couple was caught in the act of adultery, both parties were to be killed publicly:
“If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—” (Deut. 22:22).
The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10).
(b) David’s Act Of Adultery Led To A Cover-Up, & The Murder Of Bathsheba’s Husband.
1. Nathan the prophet later came to David, accusing him of his sin and declaring that because of it, violence would become commonplace in David’s household (2 Sam. 12:10).
2. One disaster after another struck his family, including rape, murder, and revolt (2 Samuel 13–15).
Judaism’s Three Gravest Crimes—idolatry, murder, and adultery—were all punishable by death. The Mishna, that is a collection of Jewish codified laws & traditions, declared that the penalty for adultery was strangulation, and even the method of strangulation is laid down.
“The person’s caught in adultery were to be taken in the center of the town. A square wooden box was built & in that box, cow manure was placed three feet deep. Then the guilty person would be made to stand in that box of cow manure with a soft towel set within a rough towel wrapped around his or her neck (in order that no mark may be made, for the punishment is God’s punishment). One man would stand on each side of the accused adulterers, and pull on each side of that cloth until the person were strangled to death, and then they were pushed over face first into the manure. They were buried there. Then a tree was planted in that box on that person literally and the tree would grow in the center of the town so that when other you kids went through the town their parents were able to tell them what had happened.
3) Jesus Said In Matthew 5:28 Even Looking At A Woman To Lust For Her Is Adultery!
(a) This is why it is so important to have self-control of our thought life (Matt.5:28-29)
(b) Paul wrote that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor.6:9-11)
2. The Conniving (8:5-6)
a) What they say – the Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say (v.5)?
1) They Are Trying To Put Jesus At Odds With The Roman Law.
(a) Only Rome Could Give The Death Sentence. He can’t say, “stone her,” for he would be rebelling against the Roman authorities.
1. If he would have said stone her then he would no longer be the friend of sinners. Sinners would have said, wow, He said stone her to death, but earlier He said come to me all you who are weary and heaven laden and I will give you rest.
(b) He Can’t Say, “Be Gracious And Merciful” For He Would Be Against The Mosaic Law.
1. Didn’t you say in the sermon on the mount that you did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matt.5:17).
2. But they knew Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14, 17)
b) Why they said it – to test Him & that they might have something of which to accuse Him (v.6a)
1) Three Important Matters were at stake:
(a) the life of the woman
(b) the teaching of Jesus about the compassionate nature of His kingdom
(c) the divinely given law of Moses
3. The Challenge (v.6b-8)
a) What Jesus does – twice He stooped down and wrote on the ground (v.6b, 8)
1) Kato Graphin: “to write” in the Greek is graphin; Kato means “against”, “down, or to cast down” –the theory is that Jesus was “writing against them” “writing down their sins”.
(a) There is an interesting prophecy of the Messiah in (Jer.17:13).
1. This is the only time in the Scriptures that we are told that Jesus wrote
2. The finger of God wrote in the dust (John 8:6) & the finger of God wrote in stone (Ex 31:18).
3. Jesus knows our sins, we cannot hide them from Him (Hebrews 4:12-13)
b) What Jesus says – Let those who have never sinned throw the first stone (v.7)
1) Witnesses Were To Be The First To Stone The Victim (Deut.17:7).
(a) Jesus forces the legalists to go strictly by the law & makes only one qualification:
1. Take a look at the log in your own eye (Matt.7:1-5)
4. The Convicted (8:9)
a) They all walk away in shame – being convicted by their conscience went out one by one (v.9)
1) They see clearly the sin in others, but are blind to the sin in themselves.
5. The Cleansed (8:10-11): The Woman Now Experiences:
a) No earthly condemnation – Her accusers have disappeared (v.10)
As Jesus sent away her accusers, he sends away our sins as far as the east is from the west, & the accuser of the brethren has nothing against us!
b) No heavenly condemnation – Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more (v.11)
1) The only one who was without sin (2 Cor. 5:21) and qualified to cast stones did not. Jesus did not condemn her.
2) In a legal sense Jesus could not condemn her because the law said that you needed at least 2 witnesses, well there were none now, they all left (John 3:17-20).
3) They came to the light & their deeds were exposed, and they left.
(a) Romans 8:1 “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”
(b) Luke 9:56 “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them.”
4) Go and sin no more – Is not saying, “go and be absolutely perfect, without sin”
(a) Repentance Is Necessary, because you cannot be saved by God and then continue to do as you please.
1. John said show fruits worthy of repentance – a changed lifestyle.
2. Matthew 1:21 JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."
3. Jesus is interested not merely in healing a person’s body. Far more important is the healing of his soul from sin.
4. Sin does have its consequences (Galatians 6:7-8); Lawlessness leads to more lawlessness (Romans 6:19) & Jesus said, “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).
(b) This woman experienced God grace & the experience of God’s grace & forgiveness should motivate the repentant sinner to live a holy & obedient life.
1. For the love of Christ constrains us – 2 Cor. 5:14
2. Romans 2:5 “the goodness of God leads a man to repentance”
6. The Principles To Learn.
a) The Practice Of Confronting Wrong Calls For Humility, Not Pride Like The Pharisees.
1) Look Closely At Our Own Lives Before We Look Critically At The Lives Of Others.
q Matthew 5:7; Galatians 6:1 – If you have satisfaction in confronting someone else about their sin, that is an indication of pride.
b) Condemning Wrong is Based on Righteousness.
q Are you “without sin” so that you feel free to cast the first stone (John 8:7)?
q Are your eyes without logs so that you can see to take the specks out of the eyes of others (Matt.7:5)?
q Are you spiritual enough to restore the one caught in a trespass (Galatians 6:1)?
q If you are not, then don’t (Matt.7:1-2)
c) The Principle of Correcting Wrong Starts With Forgiveness. Notice the pattern Jesus deals with the guilty woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way and leave your life style of sin (John 8:11)
1) How Does Jesus Want Us To Handle Situations Where Others Have Sinned?
(a) Matthew 7:12
(b) Matthew 18:15
(c) Galatians 6:1-5
(d) 1 Peter 4:8
2) Jesus’ Goal Was Not To Judge And Condemn But To Save And Restore.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)
Righteousness is a gift—for all of us (Rom.3:21-27a). So lets spend out time praising God for His mercy instead of passing sentence on others
1. Note: The Lord’s Council was, “Go and sin no more” Literally “no longer go on sinning”