The Address at the Temple
Jesus had spent the night at the Mount of Olives. He walked a short distance to the Temple early the next morning. The sun was beginning to rise over the eastern horizon. The Mount of Olives is a hill running north to south about 1.8 miles long, lying east of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. It gets its name for the large number of olive trees that grew on it. As Jesus began to teach, He was interrupted.
Jesus is approached by the scribes and the Pharisees. They bring to Him a woman caught in adultery. They speak about a commandment in the Law of Moses. It concerns anybody caught in adultery and the penalty for such sin. The penalty was stoning. They wanted to know what Jesus had to say about this woman and her sinful act. This was an act of entrapment. They wanted to make Him speak against Moses. Instead of responding in a manner that was expected of Him, Jesus stooped down on the ground and wrote on the ground. It is as though Jesus does not hear them. This infuriated them. Their plan did not work on Jesus. They continued to ask Him seeking to catch Him in His own words. Jesus’ response is not what they were looking for. He said that he that is without sin; let him cast the first stone. If they could judge righteously, then they could be the first to stone her. They could not do this because they were sinners also. They were righteous according to their actions, but not in the manner that Jesus pointed out. Then Jesus bent down and wrote something else. The scribes and Pharisees were so convicted in their conscience that they left the woman standing there, and they left. Jesus lifted Himself and looked at the woman. He asked her where those who accused her of a deadly sin were. She responded by saying nobody was there to speak the accusation. Jesus told her that He did not condemn her either. He told her not to sin anymore.
Biblical scholars wonder where the other partner is, namely the man. I agree with these individuals. Adultery is a two-person sin. To me this seems as a prejudicial act against women. When Jesus’ earthly ministry was in existence, women were looked upon as cattle. Jesus’ ministry raised women to a place of respect and love. At this point in the lesson, I would like us to review Old Testament scriptures on this matter.
Exodus 20:14 (NASB)
(14) “You shall not commit adultery.
First, Israel is told not to commit adultery, which involves two people. This was between a man and a woman. This is an act between two married people. Note the following verse:
Leviticus 20:10 (NASB)
(10) ‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Based upon this verse, the adulterer and the adulteress shall die. In addition, did the scribes and Pharisees entrap the woman? Was this the cause why there was no man? She was caught in the act. Was this an old time setup in order to entrap Jesus? Some biblical scholars wonder if a man was paid for his assistance in this matter. Notice the following scriptures, which I bring to your attention. They knew the law, and they knew what was required of the law concerning its penalty.
Deuteronomy 22:22 (NASB)
(22) “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.
The scribes and Pharisees have conspired to corner the Lord. This reveals the evil, black heart they have. They are not interested in justice, but entrapment. The person they want to stone is not the woman, but Jesus. What wickedness is shown here in the religious leaders! They even call Jesus by a different title. In verse four they call Him “Master.” This is the same crowd who called Him a deceiver. Here their true nature is revealed. I refer you back to John 7:12 where the division of the people can be seen.
These individuals sought to flatter Jesus when they called Him “Master.” Jesus is not fooled. Solomon warned of this in the following verses:
Proverbs 20:29 (NASB)
(29) The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair.
Proverbs 29:5 (NASB)
(5) A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps.
From this “entrapment,” what is the dilemma in this situation?
1. If Jesus orders an execution, He would be in trouble with the Roman government and lose the people. He would lose His message of forgiveness and of being a friend of sinners and publicans.
2. If He recommends she be freed, He would be going against or contradicting the Law. Note the following verse on this: Matthew 5:17 (NASB)
(17) “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.