St. John 8: 1 – 11

August 14, 2022

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

This is the Nineth Sunday after Trinity (Sunday) and so there are three New Testaments readings offered: 1Thess 4:1-12; John 8:1-11; 2Cor 9. I chose the St. John reading because we know it so well but continue to ask the question, “What did Jesus write on the ground?”

Consider this – the scribes and Pharisees, all riled up and self-righteous, come to Jesus with pretend outrage at the woman when what they really want to do is find a reason to accuse Jesus of blasphemy or something. You or I might immediately start speaking to the throng in answer to their questions but Jesus stoops down and writes something in the sand. I suspect – and this is just me speaking – in that act, He is causing the crowd to focus on Him, not the woman. In this moment of time, the crowd is settling down, curious now to see what will happen. Jesus has defused the situation by this act.

When He stands and addresses the scribes and Pharisees, He states the one sentence by which the crowd is to judge the situation. He’s saying, any of you who is perfect, have never sinned, then you go ahead and stone this woman. You who have never sinned, strike. And then He stoops down again.

In this second motion, He is allowing the crowd to see themselves in their own sinfulness and to weigh it against the woman’s. He is giving them the opportunity to judge themselves first, without the power He has to convince them. Free will. They must decide on their own whose sinfulness is worse or less than the woman’s.

When He stands again, His words to the woman are the same words He speaks to us – go and sin no more.

It doesn’t matter, if you’ll forgive me for saying so, what Jesus wrote on the ground. It was a matter of focusing the crowd’s attention and not some secret message. Jesus had no secrets. It’s not important what He wrote; what’s important is the lesson He taught the crowd and the scribes, and the Pharisees. It’s very much like the mote in our brother’s eye and the beam in our own, don’t you think? Look first to yourself for perfection before you demand it of others.

Very smart guy, that Jesus.


4 thoughts on “St. John 8: 1 – 11”

  1. We are not in a position to judge others. But our humanness shows how we tend to react, when not admitting our own sin. Dear Jesus, help us to forgive others as you forgive us. Amen

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I often think to myself in these particularly febrile times of the beam and the mote as one person berates someone else for some assumed sin that goes against the ‘narrative’, and of the need not to be hypocritically censorious of others when no-one apart from Jesus has lived a blameless life.

    Liked by 1 person

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