Although this passage was not in the original manuscripts of the Gospel of John, and it interrupts the sequence of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1-52- 8:12-8:59), scholars believe that it is in fact a true account and was later added to John’s Gospel. One possible reason for its exclusion is that in those times there was clearly a double standard for men and women (not so much in the Scriptures but in practice) and Jesus’ radical grace and forgiveness toward this "immoral woman" was simply shocking. Men still seem to be given more latitude in the area of sexual sin than women ("he is just sowing his wild oats" versus "she is a “loose’ woman") and Jesus shows the sham of this.

The law (Lev. 20:10; Deut: 22:22; or 23, 24) stated that both the man and the woman were to die so the Pharisees already violated the law by excluding him (maybe he escaped — but they fail to mention that). Also, only in the case of an engaged (versus married woman) was the death by stoning specified and they failed to declare her status.

But it is clear they are using her (though she was truly guilty) in an obvious attempt to trap Jesus. They were simply using her as their bait. If Jesus forgives her, they will accuse Him of breaking the law. If He has her stoned, the crowds, the poor, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the "sick" who knew they needed a doctor, who knew they were sinners and needed a Savior, would have lost hope for the very grace and forgiveness Jesus came to give. What could He do?

Jesus did only what God Himself can do He judged her, found her guilty and, in seeing her true repentance, as only God Himself can, He forgave her sins and only a few months later personally paid for her sins on the cross. Jesus doesn’t forgive sins, (He pays the penalty Himself) He forgives sinners. God would be unjust if He forgave sin. But He is both just and the justifier of all who put their trust in Him. –“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” –“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 3:23-26 and 8:33)

The woman greatly appreciated grace and forgiveness because she knew she needed it — the law was the truth, she was guilty and her very life was in jeopardy, and that drove her to need Christ to pay for her sins.

But she also needed truth "Go and sin no more". Jesus was "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) and to be more like Him we need to walk in grace and truth. Sin hurts us and others temporally and eternally. Truth is the guardrail we crash into that keeps our car from careening over the cliff when we are going too fast (sin). No one would get angry with the guardrail but be grateful it was there. So God’s truths are both the schoolmaster that shows us our desperate need for Jesus (Galatians 3:24) and the guardrails that keep us on the narrow road that leads to life as His disciples. God’s law, His truth is like an x-ray machine that reveals our inner brokenness (sin) but it can’t cure us. His grace cures us — Jesus’ perfect life offered as a substitutionary payment for our sins. And when God disciplines us for our sin, it is to correct us for our good.

When we forget that we too have broken God’s law and are guilty and deserve the "eternal death" penalty, we forget how much we need Jesus’ forgiveness. And we forget what we would be like today without His supernatural grace working in us to change us to "go and sin no more". So when we see people in great sin or in great sorrow, we can truly say, "There, but by the grace of God, go I." Then, instead of being like the "religious police" filled with self-righteousness and condemnation toward others, we can say, "Lord have mercy on them even as you have had on me." And with grace lead them to God’s truth.


How did the Lord use this passage to speak to you?

When did you realize you were guilty of the death penalty (hell) and know you needed God’s grace through Christ?

Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14), a 100% of both all the time. Do you feel you are more graceful than truthful or more truthful than graceful? Explain.

Read 1 John 1:9 and discuss why God is "faithful and just to forgive us our sins."

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