John 8:1-11 “Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 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. 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.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
A familiar story full of Jesus’ insight and wisdom. Yet it leaves three haunting questions. Why did Jesus go to the Mount of Olives? What was He writing in the dirt on the ground? Finally, where was the man? I suppose any answer given by any preacher is bound to be a bit of surmising because we just don’t know.
I feel that the first question is easier than the other two because we do know something of Jesus’ habits. We know that He often used to go off alone for time with His Father. So it is most probable that on this occasion He did indeed go off on His own for time alone with the Father.
What was He writing? The best answer I have heard to that question is, the names of those who had sinned with this woman. This is borne out by the fact that those accusing the woman were scribes and Pharisees, those who knew the Law. Jesus, unbeknownst to them, actually wrote the Law and in Jeremiah 17:13 He wrote, “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.” Jesus could no more go against the Law than the accusers, but by writing their names in the dust, where the evidence could be brushed away and destroyed, He reminded them of the law that they had heard so many times.
Finally, we come to the question that has so often vexed us – where was the man? The law actually said that BOTH parties to adultery were to be brought before the priests, and yet, the man was conveniently ignored here. By doing this, the Scribes and Pharisees had themselves broken the law in respect of bringing only the woman. Again, when Jesus wrote their names in the dust, He was reminding them of the laws they had broken for themselves. No wonder John had accused them of being a ‘brood of vipers’ and ‘whitewashed sepulchres’.
Warning - Stone throwers beware. Your own glass house could get damaged.