SET-2: Season of Great Fast
Jesus was a controversial figure because of his innovative teaching that was incongruent with that of the Scribes and Pharisees. While he was in the Temple for the Feast of Tabernacles, his enemies attempted to trap him by dragging before him a woman caught in adultery and asking his opinion about stoning her in accordance with the Law of Moses. Jesus could be in trouble regardless of his answer being positive or negative. Jesus chose the wiser approach: to write on the ground something that would incite the thoughts of the enemies. When his adversaries insisted on a reply, Jesus declared, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Recognizing their sinful state, they left the place. Jesus let the woman go with the advice, “From now on do not sin anymore.” Thus, Jesus proved that the sinners and the “righteous” are guilty before God and that all need a conversion of the heart. During this season of the Great Fast, let us leave behind our self-righteous approach, acknowledge our sins, and clean up our souls with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We should free ourselves from judging others. Like Jesus, let us be compassionate to the weak and the sinners aiming for their conversion.
BIBLE TEXT (JOHN 8:1-11 )
A Woman Caught in Adultery
(Jn 8:1) while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (2) But 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. (3) Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. (4) They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. (5) Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” (6) They 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, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (8) Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. (9) And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. (10) Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (11) She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”
Jesus came to Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles (Deut 16:1316) which was a feast spanning seven days of thanksgiving after the harvest. Jesus became a controversial figure among the Jewish elite, and they had conspired to assassinate him (Jn 7:1). So, he came in secret to Jerusalem for the feast and entered the temple area when the feast was half over (Jn 7:14). The Jews were amazed at Jesus’ knowledge of scripture, though he was known to have had no formal education (Jn 7:15-18). Jesus justified his healing of the sick on the Sabbath claiming that if circumcision could be done on the Sabbath, the sick could also be healed on the Sabbath (Jn 7:21-23). Because of their disagreement with Jesus, the chief priests and the Pharisees attempted to arrest Jesus using the Temple guards (Jn 7:32). By the end of the feast, Jesus had proclaimed himself as the living water (Jn 7:37), even as the crowd debated on his messiahship and were divided on the issue (Jn 7:40-43). Meanwhile, the Jewish authorities continued their allegations against Jesus. By evening, Jesus had moved to the Mount of Olives, where he used to pray and relax.
Teaching about Adultery
while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives (Jn 8:1).
The Mount of Olives is a hill about one and a half km east of Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:4 mentions it as the place where the Lord would appear to rescue Jerusalem from the enemy nations. Jesus’ last entry into the Temple was from this mountain. Bethphage, “the house of figs,” Bethany, “the house of dates,” and Gethsemane that stands for “the oil-press” were part of the Mount of Olives where olive trees were a plenty. Jesus used to go there for his prayer, for his night rest (Lk 21:37), and to be free from his adversaries and the crowd. The soldiers later arrested Jesus here while he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-57).
(2) But 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.
early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area
After communion with his Father and night rest, Jesus came back from the Mount of Olives with regained strength to face the crowd and his enemies again at the Temple premises. He could reach there early in the morning because, as stated earlier, the Mount of Olives was near the Temple, i.e. barely one and a half km away. Though there were attempts to arrest Jesus for the purpose of his assassination, he was bold enough to return there. He knew his time had not arrived and so his enemies could not arrest him until he let them do so.
all the people started coming to him
Since it was the end of the feast of Tabernacles, people from all over the Holy Land and abroad were already in Jerusalem. They were enthusiastic to meet Jesus as soon as he came to the Temple. Jesus was also enthusiastic about sharing his gospel before his crucifixion.
and he sat down and taught them
‘Sitting’ in the case of Jesus was symbolic of his authoritative teaching because the Rabbis essentially taught while sitting. He was very assertive in this regard considering that, in the Temple area, the very presence of his adversaries who were accusing him of misleading the people, posed a threat to his life (Lk 23:2).
(3) Then the Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle.
the Scribes and the Pharisees
The Scribes were specialists in studying, copying, and interpreting the Holy Scripture. They flourished from the period of the Babylonian exile to the destruction of the second Temple in 70 A.D. Though some of them were priests like Ezra (Ezra 7:5-6), several Levites and common people also became Scribes. As experts in the judicial procedures, they also served the Sanhedrin. The wise Scribes were also known as rabbis and were respected by the Jews because of their knowledge in the Torah, dedicated service, and adherence to the Laws. They gained authority among the Jews and joined the Pharisees in opposing Jesus for his liberal approach to man-made laws.
‘Pharisee’ in Hebrew means “separate” or “detach” because this group had separated themselves from the ordinary people by their strictness in terms of religious observances. They were against the Hellenistic influence of the Jewish religion. Besides the laws given through Moses, the Pharisees developed their own interpretations and applications of the Law. They gave importance to the traditional rituals that were not in the Mosaic Law but were handed down by the elders of previous generations claiming that they were also of divine origin. This group originated during the post-exilic times when there was a thirst for maintaining the purity of Judaism according to the written laws and oral traditions. Though some of the Pharisees appreciated the teachings of Jesus and invited him to dinner (Lk 7:36-50; 14:1), many of them objected because he did not strictly adhere to their man-made rituals and traditions. So, along with the Scribes, they too challenged Jesus.
The Great Sanhedrin, the socio-political and judicial council of the Jews, comprised the Scribes and the Pharisees. They met in the Hall of Hewn Stones in the Temple. The Scribes and the Pharisees who brought the adulterous woman must be members of the Sanhedrin trying to find fault with Jesus.
brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle
Those who dragged the woman before Jesus claimed that they had enough proof of guilt to sentence her to death by stoning so as to get rid of such evil from society because they had caught her in the very act of adultery. This of course was in contravention of what the Law prescribed: “If a man is discovered lying with a woman who is married to another, they both shall die, the man who was lying with the woman as well as the woman. Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel” (Deut 22:22).
The Scribes and the Pharisees might have purposefully caught a sinful woman to test Jesus, their target being not the adulterous woman, but Jesus. They were frustrated with him and disappointed that they could not arrest him the day before because of his evident popularity and planned to trap him precisely in the presence of the crowd around him. So, they forcefully dragged the woman and made her stand before Jesus amidst his listeners. They wished the public to know how Jesus was responding so that they could finally expose him in public and thus hurl further accusations against him!
(4) They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.”
The Scribes and the Pharisees respectfully introduced the woman to Jesus, hiding their shrewd intention. Their statement of grabbing the woman in the very act of adultery implied that they already had at least two witnesses as per law to judge her (Deut 19:15).
(5) “Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
Stoning until death was one of the capital punishments for grave sins like cursing God (Lev 24:10-16), idolatry (Deut 17:2-7), seducing others into idolatry (Deut 13:7-12), giving offspring to Molech (Lev 20:2), breaking the Sabbath (Num 15:32-36), and stubbornness and rebellion on the part of a son (Deut 21:18-21), apart from various sex-related sins (Deut 22:13-21, 23-27). The execution was done only after thorough investigation (Deut 17:4) and proper trial before the elders or the Sanhedrin with at least two witnesses (Deut 17:6). They were the first to stone the culprit during the execution of the death sentence (Deut 17:7).
There were several attempts to stone Jesus himself because of his Messianic claim. By the end of his preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, his listeners “rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong” (Lk 4:29). This method also involved throwing stones after the culprit has fallen down. While teaching in the Temple, the Jews “picked up stones to throw at him” (Jn 8:59). “The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him” (Jn 10:31). Jesus escaped all such attempts because his time had not arrived. Stephen was stoned to death and became the first martyr of the Church (Acts 7:54-60).
Though Leviticus 21:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 prescribe the death penalty for both man and woman caught in adultery, they do not specify how it should be implemented, except for the engaged virgin caught in adultery. “If there is a young woman, a virgin who is betrothed, and a man comes upon her in the city and lies with her, you shall bring them both out to the gate of the city and there stone them to death” (Deut 22:23-24). The betrothed virgin’s violation was more serious an offence and so deserved a painful death. However, the Jews gave the same punishment for all caught in adultery. The Scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus not to be judged by him, but to elicit an opinion from him as to what is to be done with an adulterous woman.
(6) They 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.
They said this to test him
Though the question seemed innocent, the goal of the Scribes and the Pharisees was to test Jesus. The Jewish elite had tested Jesus several times during his public ministry:
1. “The Pharisees and the Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven” (Mt 16:1).
2. “Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?’” (Mt 19:3; Mk 10:2).
3. The Pharisees, trying to entrap Jesus, asked him, “‘Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?’ Knowing their malice, Jesus said, ‘Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?’” (Mt 22:15-18).
4. A Pharisee who was a scholar of the law “tested him by asking, ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’” (Mt 22:35-36).
5. “Again he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They (the Pharisees) watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him” (Mk 3:1-2).
6. “The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him” (Mk 8:11).
7. “There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’” (Lk 10:25)
Thus, besides the test in the desert immediately after his baptism, and at Gethsemane towards the end of his life on earth, Jesus had several tests through his adversaries. He was successful in every attempt. In the Lord’s Prayer, he taught us to pray to the Father, “do not subject us to the test, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt 6:13).
Tests and obstacles can happen on our spiritual journey through members of our family, our friends, or foes. Jesus’ relatives did not believe in him (Jn 7:5). After the first prediction of Jesus on his passion, death, and resurrection, Simon Peter rebuked him, “‘God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’ He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do’” (Mt 16:22-23). Such setbacks did not hinder Jesus in accomplishing his mission.
so that they could have some charge to bring against him
The Scribes and the Pharisees were cunningly using the adulterous woman to find fault with Jesus in public and present him as a false prophet or one against Roman rule. He had three options:
1. Answer Positively: If Jesus had favoured having her stoned unto death, they could accuse him of hypocrisy, because he was openly teaching and practising forgiveness. Another accusation for a positive reply could be the violation of Roman law. Though Moses prescribed capital punishment, Rome had taken away that authority from the Jews. During the trial of Jesus, Pilate said to the Jews, “‘Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We do not have the right to execute anyone’” (Jn 18:31). So, a favourable reply to the enemies could cause him trouble.
2. Reply Negatively: If Jesus asked to free the woman with a warning to sin no more, he could be accused of violating the Law of Moses. The Sanhedrin could then act on him.
3. Adopt the Legal approach: Jesus could send the woman to the Roman authorities for judgement. Then the Jewish leaders would accuse him of siding with the Romans against the interests of the Jews.
Jesus bent down
When the Scribes and the Pharisees brought to him the woman caught in adultery, Jesus was teaching the crowd sitting like other rabbis. So, he could effortlessly stoop down to write on the ground.
began to write on the ground with his finger
Why did Jesus take a neutral stand, avoiding condemnation of the sinful woman?
1. The Law of Moses was binding on both the woman and the man who were involved in the act. However, the Scribes and Pharisees did not even detain the man who had sinned with her. That was an error on the part of the Scribes and the Pharisees contravening Deuteronomy 22:22-24.
2. The Law required two witnesses to pronounce capital punishment (Deut 17:6; 19:15). The Scribes and the Pharisees did not present the witnesses. Jesus could guess that they had actually caught the woman in order to have him caught in a test to his integrity, the poor woman becoming a martyr in the process. For his part, he did not want the woman to fall prey to the rivalry of his enemies.
3. Jesus declined to favour the opposing policies of the Jewish leaders to assassinate her, and the Roman authorities’ law of not killing the adulterous. He wanted, rather, to expose the sinful nature of the self-righteous leaders and to save the woman’s life and soul.
4. Jesus came not to judge the sinners but to save them (Lk 5:32). His teaching was, “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Lk 6:37). He would judge and condemn sinners only at his Second Coming (Mt 25:3146). Jesus’ goal was to save the woman, body and soul, from her sinful state.
5. Jesus felt pity on the woman who was scared to death. She might have been compelled to be an adulterous because of her poverty, or because she was raped by someone, or molested. In such a case, she could be innocent. Jesus wanted to give her a chance to renew her life.
6. Jesus wished to hold a mirror to the accusers on how sinful they themselves were while they brazenly attempted to condemn the woman. Instead of correcting their sinful lives, they were seeking to kill the woman without investigating the reality of her situation. In his silence, he expressed what he taught during the Sermon on the Mount: “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5).
Instead of directly answering the question of the Scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. The evangelist does not clarify why Jesus did that and what he wrote.
Why did Jesus write on the ground with his finger?
The Bible does not give any other instance when Jesus wrote anywhere. However, in the Old Testament, we have the Ten Commandments God inscribed on two stone tablets with His finger. “Moses then turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back. The tablets were made by God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Ex 32:15-16). The same God incarnate wrote on the ground with his finger, ostensibly to remind the Scribes and the Pharisees that he was the same God who wrote the commandments on the stone tablets.
Sand or dust could be present on the pavement of the Temple. The stone tablets God inscribed on Mount Sinai were permanent laws. The writings on the sand were temporary but touched the hearts of the opponents. Hence, they left the woman unpunished and did not assault Jesus. The new law Jesus introduced is inscribed on human hearts. God had talked about the Messianic age through Jeremiah, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33).
The writing in the dust from which humans are created might remind Jesus’ onlookers of the transcendence of life in this world. Like the writing on the sand, our life in this world will be erased and forgotten. We have to be kind to others and seek eternal life by being merciful to sinners.
What did Jesus write on the ground?
The evangelist did not document what Jesus wrote on the ground. Whatever it was, it did make the people who came enthusiastically to execute the death penalty on the adulterous woman leave in shame. Jesus knew their inner hearts. “The LORD searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts” (1 Chr 28:9). Using his divine knowledge, Jesus might have written their wrongdoings, which were more serious than that of the adulterous woman.
(7) But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” they continued asking him
The accusers of the adulterous woman became impatient with the response of Jesus. Instead of giving a negative or positive answer to their question, Jesus resorted to writing on the floor. They kept insisting on a verbal response. More than stoning the woman, they were eager to pass judgement on Jesus on the basis of his answer. he straightened up
From stooping down to write on the ground, Jesus straightened up to look at his adversaries. “Let the one among you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her”
Jesus did not deny the seriousness of the sin of adultery. The woman deserved punishment, as prescribed by Moses. But Jesus also knew the moral state of the Scribes and the Pharisees who had brought the adulterous woman before him. They were also sinners, even worse than the adulterous woman. So, the questions implied in Jesus’ declaration were: “Don’t you commit adultery?” “Weren’t some of you partners in her sin?” “How virtuous are you to judge her?”
According to Moses, “The hands of the witnesses shall be the first raised to put the person to death, and afterwards the hands of all the people” (Deut 17:7). Jesus changed this by demanding that anyone who is without the same sin to throw the first stone on the woman. If Jesus had meant one with no sin, that would abolish the judiciary system because all people, including judges, commit sin (Rom 3:23). Those who found fault with the sinner were sinful themselves. Probably some of them might have sinned with her and so brought her to Jesus with no accomplice. Jesus knew their immoralities and asked them to judge their own spiritual status before stoning the accused woman.
(8) Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
Jesus did not expect instant action from them because he raised a heart-probing demand. He allowed them time to examine their conscience. Some manuscripts add, saying, “he wrote on the ground the sins of each of them.”
(9) And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.
And in response, they went away one by one
The Jews who came to trap Jesus and execute the woman for adultery found themselves as sinners. They acknowledged their weakness nonverbally by leaving the place, probably dropping the stones they brought with them to stone the woman. ‘One by one’ is indicative of an individual decision on the part of each of them to disclose their unworthiness to punish the woman.
beginning with the elders
The younger ones among the Jews might have been waiting for the reaction of the elders. The seniors became role models to youngsters to admit their sinful status. Because of their prolonged life, their serious sins probably haunted their minds, and so they quit the place without saying a word, the youngsters following suit.
So he was left alone with the woman before him
The accusers found themselves unworthy to stone the woman. They were frightened whether Jesus might reveal their secret sins in public if they dared to stone the woman. The onlookers and the disciples might have been watching this incident closely. The woman might have been scared to death when Jesus judged her to be stoned on a condition that those who did not sin should stone her first. She might have actually been expecting the punishment from the Jews at that moment and not any relief. If anyone was eligible to stone her, it was only Jesus because he was the God incarnate, free from original and actual sin. Instead, he freed her from punishment and gave her a second chance—a new lease of life so to say! Jesus helped the self-righteous Jews to assess their souls and ascertain how immoral they were, compared to the woman they had caught in adultery.
(10) Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her
Jesus was sitting, which was part of his teaching and the woman was standing, being the accused. So, he looked up to talk to her. It was appropriately like a seated judge and a convict standing in court prior to the deliverance of the verdict.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
When Jesus spoke to the woman with a hemorrhage, he addressed her as “daughter” (Mt 9:22; Mk 5:34; Lk 8:48) and to the women of Jerusalem who met him while was on the way to Calvary, carrying the cross, as “daughters of Jerusalem” (Lk 23:28). However, he did not call this sinful woman “daughter” but “woman”. She was ineligible for it because she did not seek pardon for her sins, and she was unaware of Jesus being the Messiah.
Notably, though all of those who had brought her for being stoned to death left, she did not leave. Mentally prepared to face the designated punishment because she knew she deserved it, she did not seek to escape but rather, expecting the worst from Jesus, who might do it with his disciples or several of the onlookers around.
Jesus’ questions, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” do not imply that she was innocent. Rather, such a dialogue with Jesus was consoling to her.
(11) She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin anymore.”
She replied, “No one, sir”
The woman did not know Jesus as the Messiah. So, she addressed him as “sir” and did not ask for forgiveness for her sins. If she had known who Jesus was, she might have possibly done so. Yet, she did not justify her wrongdoing. Though she limited her answer to the bare minimum of words, her body language was expressive of what she had in mind, such as embarrassment at being caught red-handed, apologetic for her sins, and seeking mercy from God.
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you”
Even though the woman did not plead to be freed as such, Jesus was still compassionate to her. As said earlier, he did not forgive her sins per se because she did not seek for it, but avoided condemning her and gave her a chance to improve her life.
Why did Jesus not condemn the adulterous woman?
1. Jesus came not to condemn anyone but to save. Jesus told Nicodemus: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:17). He will judge only at his Second Coming (Mt 25:31-46). As followers of Jesus, we also shall refrain from judging others, but rather, help them save their souls.
2. Jesus felt compassion for the woman who looked scared and apologetic, though she did not confess her repentance in public. He expressed such compassion for people several times. For example, at the sight of the crowd who came in search of him as sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36; 14:14; Mk 6:34), after the people had been listening to Jesus for three days and had nothing to eat (Mt 15:32; Mk 8:2-3), before healing two blind men (Mt 20:34), at the funeral of widow’s son in Nain (Lk 7:13), and at the death of Lazarus (Jn 11:35). How compassionate are we towards others when we witness the pathetic situation of others? At the Last Judgement, the criterion for evaluating the fruits of Christian living on our part will be based on the compassionate action we take in the suffering of the people (Mt 25:31-46).
3. The woman became a harlot because she had no other choice in terms of making a living. Studies show several compelling situations that make a woman turn to prostitution.
(a) The lady needs money to meet her expenses concerning her necessities and finds no other way to earn it. This can happen for any of many reasons: if the husband dies leaving behind no resources for the wife’s survival; divorce and no one’s support to fall back on, abandoned by all; a victim of rape, abuse or molestation, with no one willing to marry her; or unskilled for any job, and so on. In such cases, she sells her body to survive.
(b) A woman forced into sex work by a poor family, or by others who cheat her by offering a job, irresponsible husbands who sell their wife for material gains, illegal immigrant with no other source of income, sexual slavery by sex rackets.
In such instances, society is more guilty than the woman herself. Jesus, who knew the inner secrets of the woman caught in adultery, understood her helplessness and allowed her another chance.
When Hosea presented Israel’s guilt, he preached, “Therefore your daughters prostitute themselves, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters for their prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law for their adultery, because the men themselves consort with prostitutes, and with temple women they offer sacrifice! Thus a people without understanding comes to ruin” (Hosea 4:13-14). Almost the same was this woman’s situation, and those who abused her.
Here, Jesus proved that it is the people who led the woman to poverty and immorality that are more guilty than the woman. How acute is our role in leading others to poverty-based theft or prostitution? The Bible teaches us to share our resources with the poor. So, what can we do to liberate people from the rigours of their pathetic situation?
“Go, (and) from now on do not sin anymore”
Jesus also considered adultery as a serious sin because it violates God’s commandment. Whatever justification the woman may offer for adulterous liaisons, it is still a serious sin. It would damage the woman and her accomplice, their respective families, and society as a whole. So, Jesus advised the woman not to repeat it. This has resemblance to what he told a sick person whom he had healed of his illness that lasted for 38 years. When Jesus found him later in the temple area, he said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you” (Jn 5:14). Jesus hated sin, but not the sinner. While detesting sin, how do we deal with the sinner? Do we despise him/her or do we help them to recuperate from the effects of their sinful life?
Jesus had a non-judgemental approach towards the adulterous woman as well as towards her accusers who had dragged her to him. He convinced all of them to reflect on their sinful way of life. He did not find fault with the Law of Moses on how to punish adulterous individuals, nor did he even justify the sinful woman.
He mercifully freed her from any further prospects of punishment on the condition that she would change her lifestyle. God is ready to save us from punishment, provided we also strive to change our sinful way of life. Now is the time for that change! If we delay, we might lose the opportunity for renewing our lives before our death.
1. Jesus was bold to preach the gospel to the public even in the face of much opposition in the Temple. Are we compromising with the erroneous practices and ideologies of the time, or are we bold enough to stand with the Church for Jesus the Truth?
2. The mindset of the Sanhedrin was to trap Jesus Christ and eliminate the long-awaited Messiah from the world. Though they did succeed after several attempts, the truth willy-nilly prevailed, with Jesus gloriously rising from the dead! Let us stand with the Church headed by the Messiah, avoiding the trap builders.
3. The antagonists of Jesus used an adulterous woman as a prey for their mischief against Jesus. She might have been a victim of the social evils of the society of her time. Public sinners can be the byproduct of an immoral society. Then the victims need help, and society does per se need to change. What can we do about this?
4. Jesus did not fall into the snares of enemies because of his divine wisdom. Let us pray the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance may enable us to escape the snares of the antagonists of the Church and the devil-assisted tempters prowling all around.
5. As it happened during the ministry of Jesus, tests and obstacles can happen in our spiritual journey through our family members, friends, or foes. Let us be vigilant to overcome those with the strength of God’s grace.
6. Jesus was non-judgemental about the Law in relation to his detractors who tried to trap him, and to the adulterous woman. Let us correct ourselves rather than work at finding fault with others.
7. While acknowledging the seriousness of adultery as a sin, Jesus brought about a conversion of heart in the sinful woman and her accusers. He hated sin and loved the sinner. He freed her from the death penalty and gave her a second chance to renew her life. Let us adopt a similar approach to dealing with others.
8. When the sinful woman and her enemies all realized their own sinfulness, they failed to ask forgiveness from Jesus and thus missed a great opportunity to be reconciled with God. Are we ignoring the opportunities that come our way for Confession and for reconciliation with God and others?
9. Though the enemies of Jesus acknowledged their sinful state by leaving without stoning the woman, they were too proud to express their repentance to Jesus and the woman whom they had brought to the brim of death. Let us be remorseful before God and the people whom we may have hurt whether knowingly or unknowingly.