Caught by Their Own Trap
God, as I read this story, show me where my heart needs to change.
Read John 8:2–11
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink of a time when you’ve been hypocritical. What did you do about it?
This passage appears to be about the woman caught in adultery. However, verse 6 indicates the true motives of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. No doubt they thought they had been very clever in setting a trap for Jesus. If he forgave the woman they could accuse him of neglecting the Law of Moses. If he condemned her to death (Deut. 22:22–24; Lev. 20:10) he would be denying his message of forgiveness.
No one knows what Jesus was writing on the ground (6b). But look at verse 7. How do you think the teachers of the law and the Pharisees felt when they heard Jesus’ reply? With that one sentence he cut to the heart of their hypocrisy. Jesus wasn’t talking about sin in general (7), but specifically about sexual sin. Men could apparently live good lives but commit adultery in
secret. The fact that each man slinked away suggests that they realized their own guilt.
Jesus challenges the woman (11). Getting away with it was no excuse to carry on the same behavior. But he didn’t condemn her. He challenged her to go and leave her sinful way of life behind.
This story challenges us: for example, maybe you condemn gossip but then gossip yourself. Search your heart for needed change.
God, reveal to me where I am hypocritical. I ask for Your forgiveness and for the strength to have a different attitude.
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