Most of us have heard of the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. The religious leaders brought this woman before Jesus in an attempt to trap Him with a question: “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” Instead of humoring them, the Bible says, “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 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.’”
Jesus was not violating the law by sparing this woman; He was actually protecting it from duplicity. The Pharisees had only brought one of the two parties guilty of adultery. The man was nowhere to be found—and the law called for the death of both parties. The Pharisees had tried to trap Jesus, but they were being hypocritical.
I’ve learned never to play with God. It’s a game you won’t ever win. David said this about God in the book of Psalms: “With the pure You will show Yourself pure, and with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.” God knows your heart, and He knew how to respond to these conniving Pharisees. They thought they were putting this woman on trial. Actually, every time we falsely judge somebody, we’re also on trial before God.
How does the story end? After Jesus speaks, “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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”
Jesus simultaneously showed grace and love to this woman, and outsmarted the Pharisees. I’ve been pastoring for a long time; and the happiest people I know are those that are constantly evaluating and improving themselves. But the unhappiest people I know are constantly evaluating and running down others. Where will your focus be today?
Dr. Derek Grier