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J. MARTIN GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
There is a story in the Bible that tells of a woman brought to Jesus by those who claim that she was caught in adultery, in the act itself. This event occurred around the Temple in Jerusalem when Jews commemorated Sukkoth (Feast of Booths or Tabernacles) as a jovial time to remember how God provided and protected them while they wandered through the wilderness forty years. It is the last of three annual pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient Palestine, where every male Israelite was to present himself before God the Lord of Israel (see Exodus 34:18-23). In this celebratory atmosphere, the scribes and Pharisees thrust their way through the crowd, dragging her to Jesus and interrupting Him while He taught the people. Under these conditions, the drama unfolds:
“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11)
After the scribes and Pharisees had utterly humiliated this woman by exposing her sin to the crowd, parenthetically they blurted to Jesus “that according to the law she deserves the death penalty by stoning, but what do You say?” No doubt she had committed adultery; however, these religious law-keepers were not interested in justice but to employ her as bait to entangle Jesus. To them she was not a person, but merely an object suitable for their purpose. Their intent was to snare Him between the Mosaic Law and the Roman law. For instance, if Jesus would have said, “do not stone her for this offense” He would be guilty of breaking the Mosaic Law and if He had said, “you must stone her for this crime” then He would have violated the Roman law, because only the Roman government had the right to impose capital punishment. They have now put Jesus on trial instead of the woman, because the Mosaic Law required the execution of both persons involved in the sin, but they brought only one (see Deuteronomy 22:22-24).
While the crowd waits for Jesus’ response, He acts as though He did not hear the charge from her accusers. But as the Perfect Judge, He authenticated the way to respond to the accusation. Even the order of His response epitomizes that of a true Judge from inception to completion.
He stooped (Twice): as the Perfect Judge He humbled Himself to make her plight a priority and her vantage point His to judge without fear or favoritism.
He wrote (Twice): as the Perfect Judge what He wrote is unknown, but because He’s all- knowing, then what he wrote reflected the present situation.
He stood (Twice): as the Perfect Judge He has the authority to decide the outcome of any situation under His domain.
When He stood and spoke, Jesus goes beyond the Mosaic Law that says witnesses must cast the first stone on those who transgressed His covenant (see Deuteronomy 17:2-7). But Jesus uses the word Anamartetos (Strong Gk 361) which means “without sin or sinless.” In other words, He invites the witnesses (or scribes and Pharisees) who have no sin to throw the stone first. Hearing these words pierced their conscience, and for the oldest ones it signified they were defeated; so they retreated one by one.
Jesus is both The Perfect Judge (John 5:22-23) and the Kinsman-Redeemer (see Hebrews 2:11-12, 17) as clearly illustrated in this story. In Hebrew, the word Ga’al means “to redeem, deliver, avenge, act as a kinsman.” Since Jesus came to vindicate humanity, He acted as a kinsman-redeemer for the woman whom they had set before Him, therefore:
• As the Kinsman-Redeemer He did not accuse: “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?” (v. 10)
• As the Kinsman-Redeemer He did not condemn: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (v. 11)
In a court of law today, the scribes and Pharisees represent the witnesses and jurors who determine the guilt or innocence of a perpetrator/accused according to the verdict they render. In the same way that the scribes and Pharisees rendered a verdict of stone-casting justice, many witnesses and jurors today cry out for life in prison or the death penalty, which they deem as an appropriate justice. This kind of justice keeps correction facilities crammed and death row functional. But a higher standard than witnesses and jurors governs Judges (those who sit on the Bench), because their authority is much greater and their decisions more permanent.
Jesus is the perfect example for all those who sit on the Bench, and He gave the perfect model for all to follow. Any Judge who is not humble, lacks knowledge of the whole law, does not understand people, or misuses their authority is unworthy to sit on the Bench. Judges who refuses to follow what Jesus modeled makes a mockery of justice, because it can never be just without truth and mercy. Therefore, the world doesn’t need Judges with hearts of stone, but Judges with the heart of Jesus. For in the end, the Perfect Judge—Jesus will judge all Judges!
J. Martin is an author, ordained elder, and a dynamic speaker. He is also the creator of MUDD UP (Marriage: Until Death Do Us Part) A workshop that he has taught since 1996.
All Scriptures quoted from King James Version and New King James Version.
Winthrop, John. “A Modell of Christian Charity (1630).” From the Collections of the MA
Historical Society (Boston, 1838), 3rd series 7:31-48). Accessed 27 March 2021.
<http://history.hanover.edu/texts/winthmod.html> Hanover Historical Texts Collection
Scanned by Monica Banas, August 1996.
Strong, James. The New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words. Nashville, TN:
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001.
United States Supreme Court: Oaths of Office. The Judicial Oath.
Accessed 28 March 2021.
National Archives and Records Administration. America’s Founding Documents: Declaration of
Accessed 28 March 2021.
Clarke, Adam. ADAM CLARKE’S Commentary on the Holy Bible. Edited by Ralph Earle,
Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 1967.
Klett, Fred. Sukkot: A Promise of Living Water. September 1989.
https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v06-n07/sukkot-a-promise-of-living-water Accessed 2 April 2021.