Gospel JN 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
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.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman
who had been caught in adultery
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
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.
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.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
The woman was guilty, there was no doubt of that.
The Scribes and Pharisees are standing there with stones ready to plummet the woman. The scene is tense.
Jesus kneels and writes on the ground.
Personally, I’m not convinced Jesus was actually writing anything on the ground. I think he was praying to his father for guidance on how to answer a question designed to trap him into saying something in opposition to Mosaic law.
As a life-long student of scripture, Jesus may have been thinking of the words in Deuteronomy 22, dealing with the stoning of women found guilty of adultery.
But, he had a challenging problem: how to save the woman from being brutally killed.
It was a critical moment, for up until this time the concept of “an eye for and eye” had prevailed. If you were guilty, you had to pay the penalty. In the case of adultery, that penalty was death.
Perhaps it was then that Jesus thought of Psalm 85:11, “Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.”
I believe our Heavenly Father inspired our Lord at that moment. Not only did he see the woman’s sin, as did the Scribes and Pharisees, but Jesus saw into her heart, and like God, he knew everything there was to know about her.
Jesus was fully aware that the Father had sent him into the world not to judge people but to make known the love and mercy of God.
Jesus stands and says to those holding the stones, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
“Justice without mercy is cruelty.” Thomas Aquinas
Gospel JN 8:1-11