John 8:1-11- A Stones Throw From Freedom
Explanation- In the first place, we see the diligence and perseverance of Christ. Only a day earlier He was under threat of being arrested by the Jews in the temple. Now, the next morning, He is back in the temple teaching to all those who came His way. On the one hand we know that Christ had no fear of the Jewish leaders because He knew that His time had not yet come. He would continue to do the will of His Father until the very last moment of His earthly life.
It is during this time that the Pharisees and scribes bring a woman to Christ’s attention. This woman had been caught in the very act of adultery and, as prescribed by the law of Moses, was to be executed by way of stoning. In bringing this woman to Christ they were not genuinely seeking His counsel or judgement but were seeking to test Him so that they could bring accusation against Him. It is here that a very interesting and slightly mysterious thing happens. Rather than providing an immediate answer, Christ bends down and begins to write in the sand, and He does this twice. I have always wondered what exactly He wrote. What was the significance of this action? I have heard many say that He was drawing a line in the sand, but I’m just not entirely sold on this idea. To me, this is a question that I have always had regarding Christ’s ministry. Whatever the significance of this action was I do not believe that we will find a precise answer on this side of heaven.
With this woman’s life in the balance, Christ utters these words, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ At this, the crowd begins to scatter one-by-one, beginning with the eldest. I have always thought this statement is telling of the way in which men mature in their passions and zeal. These older men seem to be the first to be pierced with the conviction of Christ’s words. The younger, and arguably more zealous and full of testosterone were not so quick to drop their stones and walk away, but as they saw the elders take their leave, they too left the scene as well.
This woman’s accusers have all left and she is no longer condemned to die. Christ now says to the woman that He does not condemn her either and that she should go and sin no more. This is the same language that we previously witnessed when Jesus healed the man at the pool. As stated before, this leads me to believe that He was referring to a specific sin. In this case it was the sin of adultery.
Application- I believe that this account of the woman caught in adultery has been abused and misused by many. It is right up there with Christ’s words in Matthew seven that state, ‘Judge not, lest you be judged.’ In both of these cases a false premise is used in terms of judgement. To be clear, we DO NOT have the right to judge another man’s soul or eternal placement. That right is reserved for the Son alone! But in a very real sense we are called to judge a man by the fruit of his life, and we are to warn that man accordingly. Many have used this account specifically to criticize the evangelistic and counseling methods of Biblical Christians who seek to draw men to repentance. They say that calling out sin is unloving and does not represent the methods of Christ. In response to this I say that we will never fully be able to do what Christ did in regard to ministry because we are not God. Christ had the power to forgive sin and draw men’s hearts unto repentance. We do not. When it came to open ministry and confronting those in sin He was able to change their hearts in an instant and forgive them, we are more restricted in our efforts. We are called to present the whole counsel of God to men. To show them the severity of their sin and how it separates them from the righteous God. This is not a license to treat people poorly or to be unkind, but there is much love in a proper calling out of sin. If a blind man is walking near the edge of a cliff and I see that he is in danger, what is the most loving thing that I can do? I can warn him of the danger that he is in and come alongside him to help. Likewise, the most unloving thing that we can do to sinful man is fail to inform them of their current condition. They are enemies of God and face His wrath and judgement. They are like the blind man walking near the edge and entirely oblivious to the danger they face. We, as the watchmen of God, are called to blow the trumpet and, if the Lord permits, awake men from their ignorant slumber. On the other hand, there is a very powerful truth displayed in this text. Christ asks the woman, ‘Where are they?’ referring to her accusers. To which acknowledges that there are none. This is the reality of the true believer. There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). He has taken away our reproach and drowned out the noise of our accusers in His infinite mercy!