In the last several Jesus has been at Jerusalem in

observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Jewish leaders

tried unsuccessfully to arrest Jesus with the intent of

putting Him to death.  The Feast of Tabernacles is now over.

We would think that Jesus would leave Jerusalem as fast as

He could get out of there.  Not so as we will see in the

text today.


I.  Jesus remaining in the Jerusalem area after the Feast of

    Tabernacles was over


    V. 1, "Jesus went unto the mount of Olives."  The Mount

of Olives is about two miles from Jerusalem on the road

toward Jericho.  The Garden of Gethsemene was on the western

side of this mountain.  This was a place which Jesus

frequented whenever He was in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

This was a quiet olive garden in which Jesus would spend

time in prayer to God the Father.  The villages of Bethany

and Bethphage lay over on the eastern side of the mountain.

Bethany is a village where Lazarus and his two sisters,

Martha and Mary, lived.   They were disciples of Jesus.  It

is probable that Jesus and His apostles spent their nights

in the home of Lazarus and his sisters during all their

stays at Jerusalem.  We know that this was where He stayed

during His last trip to Jerusalem just before He was

crucified and most likely He stayed there this time.

    V. 2, "And early in the morning he came again into the

temple..."  As I said earlier, we would think that He would

head out of Jerusalem back toward Galilee as fast as He

could to put distance between Himself and the Jewish leaders

in Jerusalem who wanted to kill Him.  But He didn't.

Instead, bright and early the next morning He headed back

into Jerusalem to the temple.

    (V. 2), "...and all the people came unto him; and he sat

down, and taught them."  In all likelihood, many of the

people who had come to Jerusalem from distant places to

celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles had already left.  But

apparently many were still around and they, too, came to the

temple for the early morning worship service.  When they

discovered that Jesus was still there, it did not take long

for a crowd to gather around Jesus.


II.  The Jewish leaders still out to get Jesus


    V. 3, "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a

woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the

midst, "  Perhaps you will remember that the Sanhedrin had

failed in their attempt to get Jesus arrested.  But the

Jewish leadership never stopped trying to entrap Him.  Even

now, it appears that they had expected that He might still

be around and they were prepared for another attempt to get

Him in trouble.

    So what did they do this time?  They brought unto Him a

woman who had been taken in adultery.  This means that she

had been taken while in the very act of adultery.  They

brought this woman to Jesus as if they had come to believe

that He is a prophet from God and wanted Him to officiate as

judge in this case of adultery.

    V. 4, "They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken

in adultery, in the very act."  This statement implies that

witnesses are present who will testify to this fact.  The

law of Moses required two or three witnesses to establish a

fact in a court of law.  It also raises a question in our

minds:  Where is the man?  If she was taken in the very act

of adultery, where is the man?  In the realm of

possibilities, he may have ran and escaped.  But in the

realm of probabilities, the arresting parties had not made

any attempt to arrest the man.

    All they were interested in was arresting the woman and

they apparently deliberately let that man go.  They were not

interested in justice.  They were not even interested in

punishing the woman.  All they were interested in was using

her to entrap Jesus.


III.  The trap that they had set for Jesus


    V. 5, " Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such

should be stoned: but what sayest thou?"  Now why would they

ask Him a question like that?  They acknowledge that they

know what the Moses had commanded them to do.  Why would

they need to ask His opinion about what to do if they

already know what to do?

    The answer is obvious.  They were hoping that Jesus

would give an answer which was contrary to the law of Moses.

They knew that Jesus was a very tender hearted person and

that He was noted for showing compassion upon people.  They

were virtually sure in their own minds that Jesus would say,

"Set this woman free."

    Even John, the writer of the book, tells us that this is

what they had in mind.  V. 6, "This they said, tempting him,

that they might have to accuse him..."  I can just imagine

the scene.  I think it must have been very difficult for

these fellows to keep a straight face.  I think it was just

about all they could do to keep from smiling at one another

as they talked to Him.  They thought they had Him.  Within

their own minds they were thinking, "We've got Him this

time.  We have got Him either way He answers.  If He says,

`Let her go.  Set her free' as we expect Him to, we will go

to the court and charge Him with speaking against the law of

Moses.  On the other hand, if He says, `Put her to death as

the law of Moses instructed' then we will accuse Him to the

Romans authorities of usurping authority of the Roman

government."  You see the Roman government would not allow

the Jews to exercise the death penalty.  If the Jews thought

someone was worthy of the death penalty, they had to go to

the Romans to get the death penalty.  In the case of the

woman, they knew that the Romans would not give her the

death penalty, because they did give the death sentence in

cases of adultery.

    So the Jews thought they had Jesus in a trap.  If He

said that the woman should be set free, they would get Him

in trouble with the Jews.  If He said that the woman should

be put to death, they would get Him in trouble with the

Romans.  Either way, they thought they had Him trapped.


IV.  Jesus' evasion of the trap


    (V. 6), "...But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger

wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not."  What

Jesus did was to just ignore their question.  He acted as if

He had not even heard them.  He just started writing in the

dirt with His finger.

    Now there has been a lot of speculation about what He

wrote.  It has been speculated that He wrote down the names

of some of the Jewish leaders suggesting that these men had

been guilty of the same kind of sin.  Some have speculated

that rather than writing their names, He wrote down the

names of some women with whom some of the leaders have

secretly committed adultery.  Others suggest that He did not

name any of the leaders nor any women that they may have

been with, but that He wrote down some other sins of which

they were guilty.  Still others have suggested that He wrote

down the ten commandments reminding them of their own guilt

of sin.  To be frank with you, I do not know what He wrote.

The Bible does not say and I do not know.  But I do know

that He ignored their question by writing on the ground.

    V. 7, "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up

himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among

you, let him first cast a stone at her."  The Jewish leaders

kept pressing for an answer.  They knew that He heard them.

They knew that He just did not want to answer their

question.  But they were determined to try to get an answer

from Him because that was the only way they could trap Him.

They were not interested in the right and wrong of the

woman.  All they were interested in was trapping Jesus.

    So Jesus stood up and faced them.  Let me paraphrase

what He said.  He said in effect, "If you fellows want to

put this woman to death, you are going to have to make that

decision.  And you will have to cast the stones which will

put her to death.  But before you start casting stones, you

had better make sure that you are without sin."

    V. 8, "And again he stooped down, and wrote on the

ground."  I can imagine that there must have been a long

pause.  They just stood there looking at one another.  If

any one man would cast the first stone, then surely there

were others who would be willing to join in.  But who would

cast the first stone?

    V. 9, "And they which heard it, being convicted by their

own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the

eldest, even unto the last..."  The discussion was over.

They had nothing else to say.  There was nothing else to

say.  If anyone would presume to cast the first stone, he

would be claiming to be without sin.  Finally, the most

elderly man in the group slowly turned and quietly walked

away.  There must have been another long moment right at

this time.  Finally, another of the older men turned and

walked away.  And so it was with them all.  One by one they

all walked away.  However, I do suspect that as the number

got down to the last few men, those men did not hesitate

quite as long.  Rather quickly then they would move.  One by

one they walked away until there were none left.

    That is, there were none of the accusers left.  We know

that Jesus was left and there were most likely a large

number of onlookers from the crowd still left.  (V. 9), "...

and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the

midst."  That is, standing in the midst of the crowd of

people.  But all of the accusers, all of the scribes and

Pharisees who had brought the woman were gone.


V.  What Jesus said to the woman


    V. 10, "When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none

but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those

thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?"  Where have all

your accusers gone?  What's the matter, wouldn't anybody

throw that first stone?"

    V. 11, "She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her,

Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."  Let me say

that this does not mean that Jesus in any way condoned the

act of adultery on the part of this woman or on the part of

the man, for that matter.  But He did not condemn her to be

stoned to death.

    Let me hasten to say that He could have condemned her.

He was the one man in that whole crowd of people who could

have rightly condemned her.  He was the one man who was

without sin and could have cast the first stone.  But it was

not the purpose of His coming into the world to condemn

sinners.  It was the purpose of His coming to save sinners.

He, Himself, said this back in John 3:16-17:  "For God so

loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that

whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have

everlasting life.  For God sent not His Son into the world

to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might

be saved."

    No, Jesus did not condone the woman's sin, but He did

not condemn her.  It was His purpose to save her from her

sin.  He did add, "Go and sin no more."  This acknowledged

that what she had done was a sin.  But it challenged her to

repent of her sin and change her ways.


VI.  What this Scripture means to us


    Let me call your attention to something that is pointed

out in this Scripture.  This passage of Scripture

demonstrates clearly that every human being, with the

exception of Jesus, has sinned.  Even those wicked scribes

and those wicked Pharisees who wanted to trick Jesus and

have Him put to death, were honest enough to admit that they

were sinners.  By walking away and not throwing those

stones, they all acknowledge that they were guilty of sin in

the sight of God.  Perhaps they had not committed adultery

as this woman had done, but they had, never-the-less, sinned

against God.  The knew it and they acknowledged it.

    Let me ask you this question:  If we had been there on

that occasion, What would you and I have done?  We weren't

there, I know, but if we had been, what would we have done?

I think that you know the answer.  We would have all had to

walk away, as did those men.  We are all guilty of sin and

we would have all had to walk away.  Not one of us would

have cast the first stone.

    Brethren, this passage of Scripture ought to mean

something to New Testament churches today.  It does not mean

that churches should not practice church discipline when it

is needed.  But it does mean that we should never be hasty

to cast stones at others for their shortcoming.  I suspect

that we have all been guilty of that at some time or other.

Rather, it challenges us to search our own hearts and our

own lives to see our own sin and to make the changes that

ought to be made.

    This Scripture ought to mean something also to the

unsaved.  It ought to mean point out to them that even

though God knows all our sin and has every right to punish

us for our sin, yet God had much rather forgive us our sin

and save us from our sin.

    It ought to mean something to those of us who have been

forgiven.  It ought to mean that we will seek, by the help

of God, to make a change in our lives and to turn from the

sin which we used to commit so eagerly.  May God help us to

overcome the sin which we formerly did so freely and live

our lives for the glory of the God who saved our souls.




    Do you need to be saved?  If you have never been saved,

you do.

    Have you been saved?  Then seek to live your life

according to the will of the Lord.