This is the most obvious interpretation of this Gospel passage but I do not recall ever realizing this until now (March 5). I think because I must have been so caught up on thinking that the point of this all was for Jesus to combat the scribes and Pharisees – to show them that they weren’t seeing him for who he was as well as wondering about “What in the world was he writing on the ground with his finger?”
But finally this hit me:
“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7
Jesus is the one without sin who would be able to condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery. And yet Jesus doesn’t. Instead “Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” (Followed by: “Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”)
Jesus’ Mercy is apparent. Jesus is Mercy.
Strive to follow Jesus and avoid sin, but if you do sin come before Jesus knowing that Jesus has mercy to give you if you are willing to receive it.
A Woman Caught in Adultery. 7:53Then each went to his own house, 1while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. 4They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.* So what do you say?” 6They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.* 7* But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them,c“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. 10Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”d 11She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.”]e
Not to detract and distract from my main point, but also in writing this up I was visualizing this scene in my head. And for the whole passage Jesus is crouched down beside the woman – He lowers himself and also is not combative. I love this about Jesus! I thought about what a “non-Jesus” person would do when being challenged and threatened and when you know someone’s trying to make you prove yourself. You would stand, posture, engage, and otherwise react in a way that meets the challenge via confrontation — because they asked for a confrontation. But not Jesus! Jesus is so much greater than them because he lowers himself down, seems to not be concerned about engaging in the challenge by drawing in the dirt, and then comes up with the greatest response which makes the point but gives the scribes and Pharisees zero satisfaction in their scheme-ings. Additionally, I’m sure Jesus wanted to change the scribes and Pharisees’ minds and hearts, but because their hearts were so hardened nothing Jesus could say would have them change their hearts and minds about him — and he knew his response would infuriate them, that it would cause them to continue to seek fulfillment of their nefarious plans, and yet Jesus stood up for a sinner above standing up for himself. In all things – Jesus places us first so as to bring us to the Father. We should do all that we can to place Jesus first so that we can please Jesus. Jesus shows such love and mercy! Jesus is mercy!