They thought what they were doing was being done in secret, but they were caught. Early in the morning, the woman was taken out of bed by the Scribes and the Pharisees. The man never figured in the story. The woman caught in adultery was brought before a man they called Jesus. It was clear that He was the target. She was just a means to an end. They didn’t care about her except to use her to try and trick this new teacher that was gaining popularity. “They said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?’” (John 8:4-5). To their bewilderment, He didn’t respond. He just stooped and wrote in the dust of the ground. They persisted that He answer their question. His response was, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). Then, He bent over and continued to write in the dirt, completely ignoring those gathered around him. Then, she began to hear it, only a few at first. Here and there a thud with a sudden poof of dust. Little by little the crowd dispersed, the older men first. The men that had stood ready to stone her were now dropping the stones that would’ve done their dirty work. To her amazement, after a few moments, none of her accusers were left. That’s when He looked up. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more’” (John 8:10-11). She was free! Who was this man that held such power in His words? The text doesn’t tell us if she even asked. Maybe she knew. We don’t even know what Jesus was writing. This we do know—all those that came to Jesus in those early morning hours learned something.
The Scribes and the Pharisees were reminded of their own sins. The law required that the man be stoned also (Deut. 22:22). There were to be witnesses, and one of the witnesses was to cast the first stone. Also, at the time they were not allowed to execute anyone without Roman permission. This wasn’t about doing what was right. Jesus was effectively calling their bluff. None of them could honestly say that they had never done anything worthy of death (Matt. 7:3). Jesus flipped the story over on them. The woman clearly learned a lesson in mercy. They very thing she deserved was held from happening. Jesus, the face of God on earth, told her that He did not condemn her and to sin no more. As readers, we are reminded of the power of a word fitly spoken (Prov. 25:11). We may see ourselves as the Scribes and Pharisees, quick to condemn. Hopefully, we learn to drop the stones. Maybe we see ourselves as the condemned, and we learn to sin no more.