2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
As Jesus is teaching the people in the temple, the Pharisees spring a trap in an effort to embarrass Him
The timing and the subject are strategic- they want to bring a charge against Jesus in front of a crowd. What is this trap? They bring a woman they say is caught in the act of adultery and they want Jesus to provide a final verdict. Citing verses like Leviticus 20:10, they attempt to pit Jesus against Moses.
There are at least two ways we see a deception in the Pharisees
- People become a Means to an End. The person who is lost in this entire exchange is the woman caught in adultery. She is a tool the Pharisees use to try and trap Jesus. Did any of them really care about her sin and her soul? The lie that the Pharisees believed is that they could use this woman for their own selfish ends.When we embrace this lie, its taints our view of every person as a means to our own ends. Rather than people existing for the glory of God, this form of deception causes us to see people as consumable commodities. This mindset is everywhere in our culture. Pornography and human trafficking are built around the idea that people are here to be used for gratification.
Sadly, this mindset is also in our lives as well as so many of us treat people in the service industry as commodities. People that work in retail often are treated horribly, and sometimes even by those of us who believe that everyone bears the image of God.
- The Pharisees take the role of accuser. Not only are the Pharisees accusing the woman, but also they attack Jesus. The problem Jesus confronts is that these men have no authority to pass final judgment on this woman (John 8:7). Walking away one by one, each of these men acknowledges that they had no standing to sit in the seat of judgment.Sin can also deceive us into taking the role of accuser. This is especially dangerous in close relationships like marriage because we know the other persons weaknesses and failures. Those closest can often become easy targets for accusation and condemnation.
Jesus is not precluding the possibility of confrontation. But, the primary difference between accusation and speaking the truth in love is motivation. If the motive is to shame and attack, this is accusation. If the motive is restoration, this is God’s plan for confrontation.
The glorious truth is that only Christ can render final judgment. Through Christ’s death on the cross, he has taken the judgment and condemnation every one of us deserved. Upon the woman’s declaration of Christ as Lord (8:11), Jesus pronounces her forgiven. This is the forgiveness humanity must have and it is one that believers must fight to remember every day.
For more on the deception of sin and the remedy Jesus provides, listen to the message here on John 8:1-11.