The Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8:1-11)
There is a great deal of discussion about the authenticity of this passage. The earliest manuscripts do not contain this text; others place it at a different point in John or even in Luke. While I have great personal doubts over the authenticity of this passage, a critique of the available textual evidence lies far outside the scope of what I wish to accomplish in Thinking About John. What we read in this passage certainly conforms to the character of Jesus. The antiquity of the passage coupled with the placement of it in Luke and at different points in John may indicate that the event actually happened, whether or not the passage is authentic to John. Therefore, we will treat the passage as an authentic occurrence in Jesus’ ministry.
Why would the scribes and Pharisees bring this woman to Jesus when all the people were gathered around him? Is it possible – maybe even likely – that they waited until the people were around Jesus to bring her?
Can you imagine this woman’s shame and embarrassment? Is it possible that the fact the scribes and Pharisees caught this woman in the very act of adultery suggest that they were possibly lying in wait to catch her? If so, how might they have known that this woman was going to commit adultery? Some have suggested that her partner was one of the men who brought her to Jesus and the others were waiting to catch them in the act. In other words, this was a “set up” to bring this woman to Jesus. Personally, I find that suggestion very likely.
Did the Law of Moses command stoning such a woman? What did the Law fully command? Why might the scribes and Pharisees not have been interested in fulfilling the entire command in the Law?
The scribes and Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus to test the Lord in order that they might be able to bring an accusation against him. In what way(s) do you think this might have been a “test?” What accusation did the scribes and Pharisees hope to bring against Jesus? What might have happened if Jesus had encouraged the people to stone this woman?
Why do you think Jesus did not answer them?
Would you not love to know what Jesus wrote on the ground? What do you think he might have written?
Why would Jesus command that the one without sin be the first to throw a stone?
Why might the older ones be the first to leave?
Do you think it took very long for the scribes and Pharisees to disperse?
Why did no one condemn this woman? Were her actions not sinful? How could Jesus not condemn this woman when she had sinned?
Why was it important that this woman go forth and sin no more?