“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” John 8:4-5 (NLT)
When they threw the woman caught in the act of adultery onto the ground in front of Jesus, they wanted her dead. Jesus got quiet and started writing in the dust. I wonder what was going through his head. I wonder if it was that the law they mentioned required testimony from two people who saw the couple in a sexual act: lying in the same bed, no mistaking what they were doing and able to positively identify each person. The two witnesses had to see these things at the same time and place so there story was identical. It would be virtually impossible to do this if you hadn’t set up a trap.
I wonder if he was also thinking that the law required a person to step in and help someone who was about to sin by encouraging them to walk away. This required compassion. Where was the compassion here? And where was the man involved? He was obviously committing the same act but he was excused. Then, there is the public display of the case. Why wasn't this done privately? Were they really concerned with her welfare or Jesus' response?
I wonder if his Divinity flashed as he saw their careless regard for this woman's life. And I can't help but wonder if he thought to himself "This is why humans aren't in charge of the judgement." Obviously, we as humans can see when someone is doing something they shouldn't be doing. But too often we see it with blinders on. We neglect to look at our own sin and contemplate our own situations. We are so quick to look at others and snap to judgement. We are slow to see them with Jesus' heart.
Jesus said to her "Go and leave your life of sin." (v. 11, NIV) He wasn’t ignorant to what she was actually doing. And he didn't want her to continue her sinful behavior. But how he set her on a different path was immensely different. Jesus was interested in her future, in her eternity. His heart went out to her knowing she was hurting and in need of a better way. The accusers were only interested in proving their point even if it meant destroying her life.
So who do you most take after in this story? Next time we are tempted to pass judgement on someone, we should ask ourselves "What would Jesus do?"