“At dawn he (Jesus) appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “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?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.” John 8:1-6
I read this scripture again today and was brought up short by the hearts of the Pharisees. These men were men who loved the law – they loved scripture. They lived and breathed it and followed it to the Nth degree. They knew it intimately – so well in fact that they wielded it like a weapon against this one who challenged them so. This story of this woman just tears at my heart. There was no care or concern for her in these men. No desire to see a hard-used woman caught in sin finally set free. And no thought for the man who certainly was with her when she was caught in the very act of adultery. Where exactly is he? These men care only to use the law of God and the sin of man to set a snare for God Himself. They throw the law at Jesus with intent to kill.
Once again I love Jesus. He seems to ignore their “Now what do you say?” and quietly stoops to write on the ground with his finger. What was he writing? I don’t know, but the very act shouts to me “Listen. See. Hear. Know my heart.” Many commentaries think he was writing the sins of the men before him. Could be, but I wonder if he was somehow writing the heart of God. Writing mercy and grace and compassion. Writing repentance and the call of God that says I love you – I love the world – I want none to perish.
And then those words … those precious, impossible words. “If any of one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And they slink away. There was one there without sin. One qualified to stone this woman and fulfill the judgment of the law. But he didn’t. Instead he did what he came to do and set her free with the command to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16, 17
Over and over in the gospel of John men use and interpret scripture for their own purposes totally missing the heart of God. They analyze the events of the day in the light of prophecy and totally miss the Son of God. There is likely little of greater importance than understanding how this happened. Jesus sheds light on this question both through his teaching and through his life. In John 5:38-40 Jesus makes it clear that life comes through relationship, relationship with him. “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” John 5:38-40
And Jesus demonstrates what relationship looks like as he interacts continually with the Father. In the gospel of John alone, the word Father is used 121 times. Sometimes Jesus is speaking about the Father, sometimes he is speaking to him directly, sometimes he describes his relationship with him. At the end of the gospel of John you know without a doubt that Jesus and the Father are tight. I challenge you to take some time and read John 14:15-27. What you’ll see here is love and obedience as parallel expressions of our relationship with Jesus and the Father. You’ll see equipping and teaching and empowerment provided through the Holy Spirit in our lives at the request of Jesus to the Father. And I believe you see the answer to how to live out a life that reflects the truth and heart of scripture.
Lord, so often I run from You. It is as if I fear loving You too much or letting You love me too much. In those times I tend to pull out Your Word only as it suits my purposes. I am a Pharisee. I repent of this. I long to love You more – help my un-love. I long to see You in Your Word and let Your Word change my heart to a heart like Yours. Thank You that this is Your desire for my life too. I love You Lord and I choose to obey You. Help me.