The Adulterous Woman gets all the press as the notorious sinner from the account that begins John 8 and that in some ways is a good thing. She is the good focus of the passage as even though she starts out as one caught in a sin and subject to judgment, she looks to Jesus as Lord and winds up walking away very different from how she arrived before Jesus. She is a sinner though and even the section titles brand her — the Adulterous Woman, SINNER! She is hard to miss. A review of the passage shows that she is not the only open and notorious sinner present on that day. The Pharisees and religious leaders who bring her before Jesus are just as guilty as she is and just as deserving of stoning. They just don’t admit it because of their self-righteousness. The account of the Adulterous Woman and Jesus is in actuality an account of a whole bunch of sinners before Jesus, only one of whom repents and is saved.
If you recall John 8, Jesus is teaching a Bible study to His disciples when the Pharisees and religious leaders interrupt Him by putting the adulterous woman before Him. Though we likely have heard this story told many times have we realized how wrong this act is in itself? Jesus, God incarnate is teaching His people and His creations interrupt Him in order to advance their agenda of sin. Just Wow! The fact that Jesus doesn’t turn them to dust immediately demonstrates how much better at being Savior He is that I ever would be.
The religious crowd then goes further and begins to address Jesus, remember GOD HIMSELF, by calling Him Rabbi, master or teacher, in a false posture of respect or submission. John is very clear that from the outset of this interaction the Pharisees have one goal, to trap Jesus – to turn either the people against Him or the Roman government against Him – both of which have serious consequences. Their express goal is to hinder the work of Jesus while He is here in His incarnation, yet they call Him master. They have no intention of being a servant to Him or being Jesus’ student, even the title used by them is a lie. The saccharin false sweetness of it makes you sick a bit if you think about it.
Before we get too high and mighty on the Pharisees and religious leaders, think about it — Have we ever done the same thing? Have we ever began a prayer to God calling Him God or Lord or Father when we have no intention of listening to what He has to say? Lord, I am asking you what to do here, but I really only want one answer and if I don’t get that answer I am not going to listen. God, I know you have told me a 100 times already what to do about my sin, but I am asking again because I want a different response. Lord, please take away my sin that I am desperately hanging onto……Yeah, I have never done that either.:)
After interrupting God’s Bible study, the religious leaders then ask Jesus a question that is designed to trap Him. We are so used to this occurring in the Bible that it is easy to forget that it is incredibly wrong. The supposed to be leaders of Israel, the religious elite that were chosen by God to take care of His children are openly rebelling against their long-awaited Messiah. They not only refuse to follow Him, but are actively trying to destroy Him. Jesus came to set the captives free, they are trying to keep the captives in prison. They are shaking their fists at God directly in God’s face. So not only is the Adulterous Woman an open and notorious sinner that day exposing her sin before Jesus, every single religious leader is as well.
Jesus has them exactly where He wants them.
God in His sovereignty has arranged the world that day to bring not only the Adulterous Woman but also the religious leaders face to face with their Savior, Jesus. He is the one they need to deal with and He is the only one in all of the universe who can make their black rebellious hearts white as snow. So while they think they are undertaking some brilliant plan, they are actually being moved around like chess pieces in order to get them to where they need to be, standing before the Master. God’s mercy on display even for the wicked. As children of God we need to realize that sometimes God will use even our sins, our bad agendas or the sins and agendas of others to put us in a place that is extremely uncomfortable to force us to deal with our own wickedness. He will allow the temperature and pressure to rise on us so we are willing to let go of the sin that is destroying us and be saved from it. We might not like it, but it is good for us.
You know what happens next, Jesus speaks about casting the first stone and each of the Pharisees and Religious Leaders are convicted by His words and slip away one by one. Notice they are convicted by God’s Words from the Word. They see their sin as a result of seeing the Lord and yet they choose to leave and go home to their sin and darkness rather than stay and work it out with Jesus. It just did not have to be this way!
All the makings of a great revival is present, God is there, sinners are there, sinners are caught in their sin and sinners convicted by the Word and likely His Spirit, all they need to do is stay and hear the same words that the Adulterous Woman hears – then neither do I condemn you – but they walk away.
They should be at Jesus feet in tears, but they pick themselves over Jesus. They love their sin more than they love God. They love their pride, fancy dress, sense of superiority, their position and most of all their self-righteousness more than they love God. How dare he say that to me, He expects ME to turn to HIM! They are convicted of their sin, yet they pick their sin over God. It is so tragic…… but it is also familiar.
Has life brought you to a place where you never intended to be? Have you wound up face to face with the Lord being convicted about your sin over and over again and yet you walked away? God, I am struggling, I can’t let go. Have you chosen to desperately hold onto the sin that is killing you like a drowning man holding onto an anchor rather than taking hold of the life ring that Jesus is offering? Have you chosen your pride, position and self-righteousness over Jesus? Are you sitting off with the Older Brother from the Parable of the Prodigal Son judging the sins of others so comfortable in your own self-righteousness that you don’t realize that you are out in the cold darkness away from the Father?
If so, then you have two roads set before you. The one leads to the same encounter that the Adulterous Woman had with the perfectly loving, perfectly forgiving Savior – Go and Sin no more.
The other leads ultimately to death as that is the wages for sin. As Joshua said Choose this day!