“Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst.” (John 8:2-3).
The contrast between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders continues to be John’s focus as the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel continues. Following a night of presumed prayer on the Mount of Olives, early the next morning Jesus comes once again to the temple. The people, like the sheep they symbolically were, flocked to Him. Jesus, like the Good Shepherd He is, sat down and taught them.
On the other hand, following a night of presumed plotting and renewed efforts to arrest Jesus, the Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery and placed her in the midst of the crowd and Jesus. No information is given as to how they discovered this woman’s adultery or where the man was who committed adultery with her. The religious leader’s intention will become clearer as the text unfolds.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Right away, astute observers will notice that something is amiss. It takes two people to commit an act of physical adultery, and if the woman was caught in the act, a man would have been caught as well. Where is he? The text does not say, but the very fact that only the woman is charged shows that these religious leaders were not concerned with the law. Both the man and the woman were to be punished when they were guilty of adultery (Lev. 20:10), but the scribes and the Pharisees sought to condemn only the woman.”
While Jesus is sitting down to teach the people the Word of God, the religious leaders place a woman in their midst who they condemn as having broken the Word of God. Jesus is concerned with teaching, while the religious leaders are only interested in condemning: the woman and Jesus. While Jesus is the embodiment of justice, the Sadducees and Pharisees embody injustice.
Who do we most identify with? Of what people group from this text do we most compare ourselves? Do we identify ourselves with Jesus in seeking to be Christ-like in all we do? Or what about the people who listened to His teaching? Are we more like them?
Are we like the adulterous woman? Are we in need of God’s forgiveness and restoration? Or are we more like the religious leaders: condemning other people by our own self-righteousness while at the same time ignoring our own sinfulness?
Our personal answers to these questions will impact our understanding and application of this text. There is much more to come from the account of the Woman Caught in Adultery. I trust you will make every effort to continue to join me each day as we study His Word.
Soli deo Gloria!