Jesus’ Life of Love
Jesus Rescues a Woman Caught in Adultery
Pope John Paul II once said, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us.”
Do you believe it? Can you personalize his words and say, “I am not the sum of my weaknesses and failures. I am the sum of my Father’s love for me”?
Our struggle to believe in the truth of God’s great love for us is the battle of the ages. Old Covenant versus New Covenant, the scribes and Pharisees versus Jesus, law versus love—it is the war of wars. From Adam’s fall until this present hour the fight rages. What rules in our hearts and minds? The old way of soul-leading through the law or the new way of Spirit-leading through God’s love?
When we are born into this world, we inherit Adam’s sin nature that thinks according to the knowledge of good and evil—according to the law. It isn’t that we were taught the wrong thinking; it is more like we caught it. We caught it from repeated early experiences with parents, caregivers and others who caught it from their parents who caught it from their parents … clear back to Adam and Eve.
Such early patterns of thought are not easily changed. They can’t simply be replaced with facts—regardless of the truth of those facts. We can’t experience God’s love as a fact. We can’t experience his love by reasoning. For example, when we read in the Bible, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,” we may think God loved the world. I am part of the world. Therefore, God loves me. But this reasoning is still only a fact. God wants us to know the fact of his love, but for change to occur in our lives, we must also experience His love through a personal relationship with Him.
Over and over again we need to experience the essential truth that God values us beyond comprehension. In relationship with God and others who share His love, our minds and hearts are transformed. God’s love becomes real to us so that our whole nature and way of thinking changes.
In the text for this lesson, Jesus’ interactions with a woman caught in adultery shows us God’s love in a powerful, relational way that speaks to our hearts. The scribes and Pharisees bring the woman to Jesus. The law says she should be put to death. But Jesus responds with forgiveness and compassion … while at the same time turning the law back on the scribes and Pharisees … so they might consider their own sins … and need for a loving Savior.
Read John 8:2–11:
2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
1.For what reasons did the teachers of the law and Pharisees bring the woman to Jesus?
2. How might the teachers of the law and Pharisees have thought of themselves in comparison to the woman?
3. As she waited to be stoned, how do you think the woman felt about herself? About the teachers of the law and the Pharisees? About God?
4. What had the woman done to deserve Jesus’ mercy and compassion?
5. Do you personally feel worthy of God’s mercy and compassion? Why or why not?
6. Did any of those who came to throw stones think they were sinless? Explain your answer.
7. What do you think was going through the minds of the teachers of the law and Pharisees as they left the scene?
8. In the Bible, stones are often used to represent the law. For example, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on two “tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). Considering this symbolism, why do you think they planned to stone the woman to death?
9. In verse 6, Jesus bent down and wrote with “his finger” in the dirt. Then, in verse 8, He bent down and wrote again. None of us know for certain what Jesus wrote, but what do you think it might have been?
10. In this whole situation, what do you think Jesus’ words and actions convey to the woman? To those in the crowd? To the teachers of the law and the Pharisees?
11. How might this event have changed the woman’s perceptions of herself? Of God?
- What is this passage saying to you personally?
Imagine painting a picture of the law. What does it look like? If there are people present in your painting, consider their expressions and hidden attitudes.
Now imagine painting a picture of God’s love. What does it look like? Consider the nuances of shading and color. If people are present in your picture, reflect on their expressions and the feelings behind those expressions.
Sit with these two contrasting images. Let the painting of love overshadow the painting of the law.