Posted by: forfreedomalone | 21/06/2018

Winking at sin??

Have you ever wondered what on earth Jesus was writing, with his finger, in the earth in John 8?
If you recall, we have a drama involving three parties, the “woman caught in adultery”, Jesus and a group of Pharisees, who bring this woman to Jesus in order to, “test(ing) Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him”. This story is traditionally interpreted as Jesus teaching that only one who is sinless can accuse another of a sin, or that only the sinless can condemn a sinner. On his part we are told that we see an all merciful, all loving Saviour who does not hold our sin against us. The facts are just a little different.
Here we have a group of priests who are asking this pest of a men what his interpretation of the law on adultery is, as they say they caught the hapless woman in the very act. They are hoping he will advise a course of action against the Law and they will then be able to attack him.
“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. When they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” (v 3-5)
They knew the law of Moses on the subject, but few today do, so we’d better have a look at what it was to which they were referring. Firstly, the Ten Commandments forbids it. “You shall not commit adultery”. Exodus 20:14….so that’s fairly straightforward. But what if, as man is prone to doing, you do it anyway? Well, Leviticus 20:10 is equally clear on that point, “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”
So adultery is forbidden, but if a man commits adultery with his ‘neighbour’s’ wife both of them are to be stoned to death. ‘Neighbour’ here does not, necessarily, mean the chap next door, but any of his fellow countrymen. So, where, we may ask, was the man? Why didn’t they bring him also and ask the same question of Jesus regarding him? They said they knew the law on the subject…..or is there perhaps something we are missing?
Well, yes there is.
Numbers chapter 5 goes into great detail about what is to happen if a man believes his wife is being unfaithful, but he does not actually find her “in flagrante delicto”. The nub of the chapter, which is relevant to our first question is this…..”The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water.” (v 17) then the priest has to make the woman swear that she has not been unfaithful and, ‘Then the priest shall write these curses {to which she will be exposed if she is guilty} in a book and he shall scrape them off into the bitter water.” (v 23) She will then be required to drink the water containing the dust of the floor and the words of the vow. Then they wait. God will deliver His verdict in time, a guilty verdict being evident by her barrenness.
So let’s go back to the woman in John. The priests say she was ‘caught in the act’, but her husband, who is required as a witness is not there. She, herself, says nothing. They know that the law requires them, as witnesses, to stone her AND THE GUILTY MAN, to death outside the city wall. There is NOTHING for Jesus to give a verdict on……unless, they are lying, she is innocent and what happens next is the “trial by water”.
The elements of that ‘trial’ were dust, water and an oath to God, invoking His holy name. What do we have here in John?
The dust of the earth, the Water of Life and ….Jesus writing in the dust YHVH. He was not pronouncing the Holy name, but by writing it he was making very clear to the priests that he knew they are lying and he is administering the “trial by water”. As He IS God, there is no need to await a decision, he can give it at once. “Go and sin no more”. He does not say, “Go and do not commit adultery again” because if he knew she was guilty he COULD NOT as the Son of God, break the Torah (after all he is the living Torah) by turning a blind eye to her sin. He knew she HAD to be stoned, but if he knew she was innocent of the crime of which she was accused, that is a whole different matter.
By commanding the one who was without sin to begin the stoning, as He wrote YHVH in the dust, he was telling the priests he knew they were guilty of “bearing false witness”.
If we knew the writings of the Tanaka as well as the writers of the New Testament expected their readers to, then we would not need to puzzle over details like this.
Jesus did not condone her sin, he did not turn a blind eye, he did not even show her mercy. He administered justice, according to the law which God gave to Moses. The just verdict of the Judge of the Universe was strictly in accordance with the law….just as we should expect from the living Torah.


  1. But, but, but… if Jesus wasn’t showing her mercy, and He knew she was guilty, isn’t He required to cast the first stone?
    Doesn’t this mean she is not guilty?
    Just wondering?

    • Okay, let’s break that down to the crux which is…..IF she IS guilty isn’t Jesus required to cast the first stone?
      The answer is, no.

      The first stone has to be cast by the witnesses. Deuteronomy 17 lays out the law on stoning. Verses 6 and 7 are what we need here, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
      The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you”. Adultery was a capital offense and it was at the hands of the witnesses that the adulaters, BOTH OF THEM, were to be stoned.

      So if Jesus knew she WAS guilty, his statement was correct; stone her. That is the requirement of the law and he knew it and the priests knew it and they knew he knew it. There is no place in the law for mercy, it is ONLY designed for justice.
      If he knew that she was INNOCENT then his statement still was correct; whichever one of you is without sin (as you claim to be the witnesses, it is for you to stone her) you throw the first stone.

      They vanish. They knew they are guilty of bearing false witness and they knew that to stone her would have been murder.

      The law has no place for mercy and Jesus could not show mercy, WITHOUT the full payment of the law. Mercy cannot be detached from justice. IF she had been guilty her penalty would have been death. Only death would meet justice. But mercy could be shown to her if there was another, not guilty of her crime, who would take her place. He had not yet fulfilled that role.

      We tend to talk about his mercy as though he were letting us off with it; whatever ‘it’ is; but he isn’t, he can’t, justice requires the FULL payment of the law and the payment is death. Mercy is made manifest in that he substitutes himself for us.

      • Thank you for the clear explanation, and thank You Jesus for Your Grace!

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