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, 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. 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 conscience was 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. 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 and then commanded the woman to repent. That is still His method. He longs to forgive but needs us to repent; He longs not only to pardon but also to guide us into obedience so that we live with a clear conscience. He never says that sin is acceptable, but 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 by turning from sinful habits.
© Dr Paul Adams