John 8:12 ESV,
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Frequently, the first 11 verses of John 8 are examined apart from verse 12. Despite the fact that the first 11 verses clearly depict Jesus as the light of the world. He is the light in this dark world, the world that was about to go a lot darker for this woman who had committed adultery. Yes, this woman was in a situation where she knew she would soon die because she would never be able to escape again due to her transgression against Jewish law. Cruel, indeed.
If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.
“If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
It is obvious from the two halves of the scripture above the woman who was caught in the act of adultery was going to die. The question was this, where was the man who had sex with this woman? Why it was only she who dragged before Jesus? The answer lies in verse 6, this they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Yes, John did an exceptional job of revealing the true motives of the Pharisees: it wasn’t to uphold the law of Moses, but rather to set Jesus up to break it by saying something opposing the law. The stones that were prepared were not intended to throw at the woman, but at Jesus instead. They were prepared to stone Jesus to death!
It is undeniable that often those who we think should be law experts, those who are said to be the scribes, are the ones who often act brutally and without mercy towards other humans. In this situation, the Lord (or any of us) would really need wisdom from Above.
However, Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground, says the following portion of verse 6 John chapter 8. What did the Lord write on the ground, on the earth, on the dust? The phrase “but Jesus did not answer them” appears in different translations. Instead, he simply knelt down and traced his finger across the ground. With His finger, the Lord scribbled something on the ground, in the dust.
With His finger, He was marking the earth! There were two different incidents recorded in the Bible where God’s hands and fingers come into contact with the ground of the earth, dust, and clay. One was when He wrote with His finger the 10 commandments of the Torah and the other was when He first created man.
And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.
Also, when He created man, He didn’t just speak His Word, but with His own hands, He built Adam from the ground, literally. Genesis 2:7,
Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
The word formed the man of dust, in their original Hebrew language has the meaning of a plunger who forms a vessel from clay.
There is another intriguing line in the Bible that talks of God’s hand writing on the ground. Jeremiah 17:13,
O LORD, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake you shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,
for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.
So, was Jesus writing their names, these scribes and Pharisees, on the ground, in the earth, just as Jeremiah said? Their actions toward Jesus were clearly against the Lord. Imagine this, how cunning they were and how cruel their real motivations were. If Jesus’ answer was in accordance with theirs, the woman would be stoned to death by them! He would no longer be the friend of the sinner. If the Lord’s answer was opposing the law just as what they claimed to do as punishment against the woman, it was to Jesus instead they would throw the stones! Yes, they would have managed to frame Him to come against the law of Moses. How cunning their hearts are! Clearly, they had forsaken Him. They had turned away from Him, just as Jeremiah said here.
So once again, was Jesus writing their names, these scribes and Pharisees, on the ground, in the earth, just as Jeremiah said? This Jeremiah 17:13 is the opposite of the last part of Luke 10:20,
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Luke 10:20, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven
Jeremiah 17:13, those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,
With all our actions as humans and behavior as men on this earth, will it make God bend down to write our names in Heaven or in the earth? Are we putting ourselves in a position to be on His side or against Him?
After the Lord knelt down and wrote with His finger on the ground, John 8:6, the following verse reveals that they kept bugging Him, they were constantly questioning Him. They really got angry and lost their temper. They demanded such an answer from Jesus! They had almost reached a point where if God wouldn’t answer and continued to ignore them, they were going to stone Jesus and the woman together. But the Lord stood up and said, let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. What an answer! In different translations, the part that said who is without sin is translated as whoever among the men here has never had a sinful thought, a sensual desire for such a woman, let him throw the first stone at her. Yes, the word without sin in the original translation here doesn’t only mean to be free of sin, to be never committed any wrongdoing before, but even if there should never be a desire or any lust, not even as much as a sensual feeling. A situation that only occurs in the mind or heart, and not yet as an action! Jesus said in Matthew 5:28,
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Yes, in Jesus’s end, the law comes to a much heavier level. Just as Romans 3:19-20,
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
John 1:16-17 itself reveals to us that in Him, in Jesus alone,
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, forgiveness upon forgiveness. Why is it then that we who have received so much grace, mercy, and forgiveness from Him find it difficult to let go of the same things to those who have wronged us? Just as the Pharisees and teachers of the Law in John 8:15, Jesus said,
You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.
In another translation, it is said,
Because you have judged others by appearances, but I have never judged others in that way.
Oftentimes, we who know the Law, who know His Word are more inclined to judge others. Like those here who tried to frame Jesus up. We never want to put ourselves in the position of the woman who was only able to look down in shame, full of guilt, in lots of fear, screaming for mercy and forgiveness.
If Mary, the mother of Jesus, had been present in the audience that saw this event, she would have remembered her submission to Gabriel, God’s messenger, who informed her that she would conceive and give birth to a boy (Luke 1:31). In response, Maria said in verse 38,
Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.
When she said these words, she submitted herself to God as a response to the answer she got when she asked Gabriel the question in verse 34,
How will this be, since I am a virgin?
Gabriel answered her in verse 35a,
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;
Mary understood the risk of what this answer meant because she was without a husband at that moment. She knew she could be stoned to death when she got caught being pregnant before she got married. Exactly just like the situation that woman faced in front of the mass in John 8. If Mary, the mother of Jesus, had been present among the people that saw this event, she would have said in her heart,
Lucky me, no one knows. Or ..
Oh, thank God for Joseph who has decided to keep me despite my pregnancy! Read Matthew 1:19.
Back to John 8:7, the Lord’s answer to their demand to stone this woman stunned everyone! For a moment all was silent and still, no one dared to say something.
Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.
And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
Probably at this time He added more names of all those who were there, one by one He wrote in the earth. Nobody dared to speak now as the silence continues. Suddenly, footsteps could be heard walking away, slowly but surely disappearing into the distance. And there were more and more steps, walking away! The Bible said in verse 9,
But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]
A very gracious ending. Everyone at that moment who witnessed this event breathed a sigh of relief. Immediately Jesus’ mother and the other women who had been following the Lord ran to the woman and pulled her aside from the mob. Give her water and calm her down. Here we can see Him as the light of the world. Whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life, John 8:12.
Not many of us are as this woman was. But that’s also one of the reasons why so many of us don’t know what it means to be forgiven. Now that we can clearly see it, the Lord Jesus later transformed into the Lamb offered as atonement for this woman’s sin. On the Cross, he took her place as the substitute. The question is now, do you comprehend what this woman had received from Jesus? Not that you have to commit sin in such a way before you can grasp the meaning of all this, but this saying is true, but he who is forgiven little, loves little. Luke 7:47. We frequently condemn others who are different from us because we are trying to live in a way that pleases God. We thought we have the right to feel superior to others only because our background is whiter than theirs. We fail to recognize that, no matter how small our transgression against Him, we still need His forgiveness as much as that woman in John 8.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.