Teachings of Jesus While Here On Earth

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by Mary Hamilton

Lately, I’ve been working my way through the gospels to become more familiar with Jesus and his life here on earth. Recently, in John 8, I read the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery who was brought before Jesus for judgment. You may be familiar with the story. The Jewish leaders wanted to find some reason to discredit Jesus and even arrest him. They tried various means of questioning him, hoping to trip him up so the crowd would see he was nothing special. 

This time, they brought a woman caught in the act of adultery. According to Mosaic law, she should be stoned. Would Jesus uphold the law, or break it as he’d done by healing on the Sabbath? 

Of course, we know that adultery requires two people, and one of them—the man—was missing from this scene. Or he may have been one of the accusers. Most likely, the woman was set up for this very purpose. As a capital offense, adultery required at least two witnesses whose testimonies agreed. But adultery is a private sin that rarely, if ever, has any spectators. This, plus the fact the woman alone was brought before Jesus, makes it likely she was set up. 

When the Jewish authorities demanded an answer from Jesus, he bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. No one knows what he wrote. It might have been the full law on which they based their incomplete case for stoning. It might have been the names of the accusers. Some have thought maybe he followed the Roman custom of writing out the sentence before speaking it. Whatever he wrote, Jesus took his time. Ignoring the insistent demands of the accusers, he bent down to the ground, a position of humility. He put himself on the same level as the woman. 

At last, he stood up, face-to-face with the accusers, and delivered his verdict. Whoever was without sin had his permission to cast the first stone. Traditionally, this was the responsibility/privilege of the two or more witnesses. But one by one, each of the men left until only the woman remained. 

What astounds me about this passage is the way in which Jesus neither condoned nor condemned the woman. He—the only sinless one who had the right to cast the first stone—instead put himself on her level. He stepped into her shame and disgrace without excusing it and without condemning her. Jesus acted out Romans 8:1 that says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

It’s a challenge for those of us who claim to be followers of Christ. I find myself quick to condemn. More like the Jewish leaders than the Savior I profess. Only when I remind myself, daily, hourly, minute by minute, that He stepped into my shame and disgrace without condemnation—only then am I able to follow His loving example.

Mary HamiltonBio: Award-winning author Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Her experiences during twenty years of living at the camp, as well as people she knew there, inspired many of the events and situations in her novels. Mary is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Christian Authors Network (CAN), and Texas Association of Authors (TAA). When not writing, she enjoys a little amateur  photography, knitting, reading, and spending time with her family. Mary and her husband live in Texas.  



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  1. I read the same passage a few weeks ago. Love how you brought out the fact that ‘He neither condoned or condemned’. And He got down to her level. Great reminder of how to be more lime Jesus!

  2. What a great post, Mary. I’d thought a lot on this scene yesterday. A timely, wise lesson. Thanks for sharing.


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