I must confess that my first reaction to the story in John 8, “A Woman Caught in Adultery,” has often been defensive finger-pointing.
Me: “It takes two to commit adultery. What are they going to do to the man?”
That’s not the point Jesus makes in this story. It’s not: “But everybody else is doing it.” or “What about so-and-so. What are you going to do to him?” or “Just because I got caught.” Jesus has a much better point.
Read it yourself–or if there are others available to read it with you, reenact it as a “Readers’ Theater.” [5 Characters: Narrator, Pharisees 1 & 2, Jesus, Woman]
The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone.
Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery.
In the Law, Moses gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?
They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt, but they kept at him, badgering him.
There’s no doubt about it—she’s an adulterer!
Surely you have something to say! What do we do with her?
Jesus straightened up and looked around at all those who had gathered there.
The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.
Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and turned to her.
Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?
No one, Master.
Neither do I. Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.
- What is often your first reaction when confronted with your own guilt? Excuses, finger-pointing, lying…
- Talk about where truth is shown in the story above. Where is grace demonstrated? How does Jesus blend truth and grace together?
- Was there an incident in your life where you deserved condemnation, but instead received grace?
- Have you asked others, those who were affected by your sin, for forgiveness? Have you forgiven yourself? Which is harder?
- What do you think Jesus will say to you when you arebrought before him on Judgement Day?
Pray with me:
Lord, make me have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.1
1Phyllis Tickle, The Divine Hours, Prayers for Summertime, (New York, 2000), 226
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