Trying To Trap Jesus
This passage (John 8:1-11) is not found in most of the earliest manuscripts of John's Gospel but it contains important Divine principles found elsewhere. Certainly, the religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus into saying something contrary to the Law of Moses, so that they could have evidence to arrest Him and kill Him. The narrative tells of how they dragged the adulterous woman before Him as He taught the crowds. The testing question was, ‘Would Jesus authorise death by stoning?’
But where were the witnesses? Deuteronomy 19:15 demanded that at least two or three witnesses had to agree before anybody could be convicted of any crime; and Deuteronomy 17:6-7 prohibited execution by stoning on the evidence of one person. If there were two or three witnesses in agreement, they had to throw the first stones to confirm that their consciences were clear of the same crime and that their testimony was true. In the case of adultery, both the man and the woman should be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:22).
But where was the man? And where were the eye-witnesses? And where were the clear consciences? In this narrative, Jesus did not condone adultery, and did not say she should not be stoned. He simply searched the consciences of her accusers by His piercing statement, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”. It seems that Jesus did not even look at the self-righteous religious leaders. His Word was enough to prevent them from stoning the woman as they were forced into examining their own lives and thoughts (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus’ words to the woman were straightforward, ‘Repent’!
That is still God’s method of dealing with us sinners. Jesus has done everything necessary to pay for the sins of the world. He longs to forgive but commands us to repent (Acts 17:30). He longs not only to pardon us so that we can live in relationship with Him, but He also wants to guide us into obedience (Psalm 23:3) so that we live with a clear conscience. He never says that sin is acceptable, neither does He tolerate the religious hypocrisy of disobedient, unrepentant people with seared consciences. So, today, we ought to reflect on these principles of covenant grace and show our repentance, with gratitude for our salvation, by turning from all that offends our Lord.
© Dr Paul Adams