1-20-2018, #6: A Woman Facing the Death Sentence
It looks like she has ruined her life. This morning they arrested her and now they are ready to kill her. Only one detail remains. A new teacher in Judea must be consulted first. Why, she doesn’t know.
The Scribes and Pharisees who captured her seem to be ushering her before someone of authority and wisdom. Yet her captors are filled with hatred and resolve. As they drag her by her arms to the temple area, she sees a young teacher sitting before a small audience. Nothing is threatening about this scene. Neither does the teacher look like someone of great importance to her. But the rulers force her to stand before the group while one of them brings forth the accusation and a challenge: “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery! Moses’ law demands, `Stone her!’ What is your verdict?” A crowd gathers around to hear his answer.
As she contemplates the brutal and horrible death these men plan for her, she waits in suspense and anxiety for the teacher’s reply. She doesn’t realize that this is a deadly trap set for the young Rabbi.
Past Events Repeated:
“. . . they say, `If you say anything, we will report it' . . .
‘He will trap himself', they say,
‘and then we will get our revenge on him'”
(Jeremiah 20:10c, e, NLT).
Silence; only silence. The teacher bends down and writes in the ground with his finger. He knows that God desires to write His laws upon people’s hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). People must do more than obey laws on the outside. When God’s laws are written in one’s heart, that person obeys them because he wants to, not because he has to. The religious leaders persist with their question, but Jesus waits for the answer that his Father will give him.
Messianic Prophecy Fulfilled:
(Given 712 B. C.)
“And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
but with righteousness shall he judge . . .”
(Isaiah 11:3bc, 4a, NKJV)
On another occasion, Jesus said, “. . . as I hear I judge” (John 5:30b). Jesus’ ear is trained to hear God’s voice and his tongue is trained to speak God’s word (Isaiah 50:4-5). Now Jesus stands up and repeats what he heard the Father say: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her” (John 8:7b). Then he sits down and writes on the ground again.
His words are living and powerful and they penetrate to the deepest core of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). A Spirit of conviction moves among the crowd as the Holy Spirit deals with their hearts. Each one is convinced in his conscience about his own sins and guilt. The woman hears stones dropping. The crowd begins to walk away, one by one, beginning with the oldest among them. In light of their own sins, they no longer feel qualified to condemn her.
These Jews sought to trick Jesus and formulate charges against him for saying the wrong thing, but they didn’t realize they were standing before one who could judge cases with wisdom greater than Solomon’s (Matthew 12:42).
After they all leave, Jesus stands and asks the woman,
“Woman, where are those who accused you? Did not one give judgment against you?” (John 8:10b, LITV)
“No one, Lord” she answers.
“Neither do I give judgment. Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11b, LITV). This day, compassion and mercy triumphed over judgment (James 2:13).
When Jesus spoke the words, “Go, and sin no more”, the woman received a new enabling power to resist sin. For Jesus’ words are filled with power, as written, “He sent His word and . . . delivered [them] from all their pitfalls” (Psalm 107:20, LITV).
The religious leaders planned to stone the woman, but the one they really wanted to stone was Jesus. Some of these men had been students of the Scriptures for over 50 years. So they reasoned, “How could this man in his early thirties know so much? He spent his life learning carpentry work, not listening to our teachers.” They considered themselves much older, wiser and more experienced than he. And they were jealous because he was so popular with the people.
Jesus had thoroughly studied the Word of God, and in him the word was fulfilled: “I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments . . . For You Yourself have taught me” (Psalm 119:100, NLT, 102b, NKJV).
Comments: Like this woman, when we give God our submitted wills, He gives us the power to do what He has called us to do. He not only tells us to repent when we need to, but He gives us the supernatural enabling to do it and to go on to live new and better lives.
The prophet Ezekiel foretold that one aspect of the New Covenant would be that God’s people would receive the Holy Spirit, who empowers and enables us to do God’s will. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, . . .” (Ezekiel 36:27a, NKJV). The way that the Lord “causes” us to walk in His Word is He empowers and enables us to do so by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us to live the Christian life.
Thank God for the grace of Jesus! Thank God for sending Jesus, who came to give us more abundant life today and eternal life in the life to come.
Note: much of this devotional is from The Life of Jesus Foretold, pages 176-180.