Today’s passage: John 8:1–30
Focus verse: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
Jesus’s detractors drag a woman caught in the act of adultery before him. They’re doing this to test him. These religious leaders who present the adulterous woman care nothing of her, what she did, or about justice.
If they have genuine concern for the law they claim to uphold, they should bring her adulterous partner along with her. It takes two to have an affair. But they don’t care about the man’s role in this.
Instead, they’re exploiting her. They want to trap Jesus into saying something they can use against him. With their vast knowledge of Scripture and their made-up rules about religion, they’re sure they can twist whatever Jesus says to ruin him.
The woman is their pawn.
Jesus doesn’t take sides, something her accusers hadn’t considered. Had he upheld the law or offered her mercy, they would have used his words against him.
Instead, he thwarts their scheme. Without pronouncing judgment, he says the person without sin may throw the first rock to kill her. No one qualifies. They slink away.
Once they leave, Jesus offers the woman mercy and lets her go. He encourages her to change her behavior.
Too often, well-meaning religious leaders are quick to condemn others when they should extend love and encouragement.
But what about the guy? We can guess at his identity. It could be he was one of their own and they wanted to protect him.
Another possibility is this was a setup, that he seduced and trapped the woman with the goal of catching her in the act so they could drag her before Jesus. Another thought is that their tryst was mutual and ongoing.
Regardless, the religious hierarchy has a double standard. They accuse the woman of wrongdoing and let the man go, even though he is just as guilty.
This is the way of corrupt leaders who have an agenda.
- Is it your nature to judge others, or do you offer love and mercy? Why?
- In what areas do you need to work at offering mercy instead of judgment?
- Does judgment have any place in Jesus’s church?
- How can you encourage people to change their behavior without judging them?
- When have you applied a double standard to others? What would Jesus do?
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Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.