Staying Silent: John 7:53-8:11

Focus Passage: John 7:53-8:11 (CEV)

53 Everyone else went home, 8:but Jesus walked out to the Mount of Olives. Then early the next morning he went to the temple. The people came to him, and he sat down and started teaching them.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law of Moses brought in a woman who had been caught in bed with a man who wasn’t her husband. They made her stand in the middle of the crowd. Then they said, “Teacher, this woman was caught sleeping with a man who isn’t her husband. The Law of Moses teaches that a woman like this should be stoned to death! What do you say?”

They asked Jesus this question, because they wanted to test him and bring some charge against him. But Jesus simply bent over and started writing on the ground with his finger.

They kept on asking Jesus about the woman. Finally, he stood up and said, “If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!” Once again he bent over and began writing on the ground. The people left one by one, beginning with the oldest. Finally, Jesus and the woman were there alone.

10 Jesus stood up and asked her, “Where is everyone? Isn’t there anyone left to accuse you?”

11 “No sir,” the woman answered.

Then Jesus told her, “I am not going to accuse you either. You may go now, but don’t sin anymore.”

Read John 7:53-8:11 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

While reading John’s gospel, specifically the passage that describes the woman caught in adultery being brought to Jesus, I am amazed by a detail that John includes in this event. When the law was clear, and when it would have been easy for Jesus to clearly answer the challenge that the religious leaders bring, Jesus does something unexpected; Jesus doesn’t actually respond to the challenge.

John describes this by saying, “They asked Jesus this question, because they wanted to test him and bring some charge against him. But Jesus simply bent over and started writing on the ground with his finger.” (v. 6)

Tradition says that instead of answering the question, Jesus starts writing the sins of the accusers in the sand. According to this line of thinking, Jesus chose to write in sand to subtly suggest that forgiven sins are easy to erase – because everyone who has chosen to write a message in the sand of a beach knows that the wind and waves erases everything equally.

However, Jesus could have simply bent down and begun to write out Old Testament passages that relate to God’s love and His forgiving character.

Regardless of what Jesus chose to write, the religious leaders wanted a clear direct answer to their clear direct challenge. The leaders “kept on asking Jesus about the woman. Finally, he stood up and said, ‘If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!’

Jesus only speaks after being pressured to respond. I believe this is because Jesus was more interested in avoiding condemning the woman who was hurting than He was in proving a point to those who brought the woman to Him.

In our own lives, Jesus is familiar with all the times we have failed, and all the times we have done things worthy of God’s condemnation. However, Jesus didn’t come to condemn people. He came to show everyone God’s love and His forgiveness. Jesus forgave the woman, and He offers forgiveness to each of us as well.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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