The woman caught in adultery
There are two other instances of Jesus dealing with women who had made a mistake, the sinful woman of Luke 7 and the Samaritan woman of John 4.
Jesus’ detractors bring before Him a woman. In disgrace she was brought before Him. She was accused of adultery. She was caught in the very act of adultery. This sin of course cannot be committed alone. So the question is obvious. Where is the other person? Why was he not brought before the Savior? This incident was staged as a trap. Provisions had been man for the man to escape. They wanted to humiliate her. She could have been kept in private custody while they spoke to Jesus. But they wanted this to be made public. They wanted to humiliate her.
The language of verse 7 may imply that Jesus knew that the men who were accusing the woman were themselves guilty of the very thing of which they accused her. If so, what Jesus wrote in the dirt may have been the names of the mistresses of each of this woman’s accusers.
Jesus’ words disarm them. Sure, the Law allows her to be stoned. But he who is without sin may cast the first stone. Because they were not “without sin”, they each walk away. Only Jesus is left standing. His command breathes new life to this woman. Go now and leave your life of sin. Jesus does not condemn her nor does He make excuses for her life. He gives her a brand new life, the life He gives you as He offers you forgiveness, restoration, and a new birth.
O Lord Jesus, since You have left us a memorial of Your Passion in a wonderful sacrament, grant us, we pray, that we may so use this sacrament of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redeeming work may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Woodcut used with permission © WELSCollect for Maundy Thursday, Lutheran Worship, © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis