22 March 2010

John 8:1-11

"Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." (v.7)


Jesus was at the Mount of Olives and about to teach the gathered crowd when this woman was brought in front of him. The scribes and Pharisees deliberately set up this event in order to trap Jesus. But the sin of adultery can not be committed alone, which begs the question: why was only one of the offenders brought forward? In Judaism at the time, a woman would have only been stoned under these circumstances if she was a betrothed virgin, and the law required the execution of both parties not just the woman.

The Romans did not allow the Jews to carry out death sentences, hence the 'trap', so if Jesus had said to stone her he would have been in direct conflict with the Romans authorities. But if he had said not to stone the woman he could have been accused of being unsupportive of the Jewish Law and his own customs. When Jesus begins to write on the ground we can only imagine what he was writing... It could have been just him getting on with things, back to work as it were, possibly knowing that the Jews would persist with their questioning. But Jesus did not rise to the bait.

When Jesus finally gives his questioners an answer: "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" - it disarms them. It was not the 'yes' or 'no' answer they were looking for and it was defiantly not a 'maybe'. Since Jesus spoke of throwing stones he could not be accused of not upholding the law. But for any of them to start throwing stones each would have to admit that they were free from sin. And of course, no one could.

This passage illustrates the strength and effect of Jesus' teachings. And sometimes the effortlessness of it all.

To Ponder

What do you think Jesus was writing in the sand?

Are there occasions when you are quick to 'point the finger'? What could you say to God today to help you with this in the future?

Bible notes author

Sanya Strachan

Sanya Strachan is an administrator for the Connexional Team, a youth worker and a local preacher. She was born into the Methodist Church and her church family continue to inspire her as a local preacher, guide her as a young person, pray for her as a West Ham Utd Fan and support her as a Tim Hughes groupie.