Mr A had an affair with Mrs B.They were caught in the act of adultery and reported to the teachers of the Law and Pharisees for prosecution according to the Law of Moses which says:
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death”-Lev 20:10.
The ‘prosecutors’ freed Mr A and decided to use Mrs B as a bait to trap Jesus Christ.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger”-John 8:4-6
What was the plan of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Lord? They wanted Jesus to say something!
Jesus had three options in terms of what he could say:
Option 1:He could say the woman should be stoned according to the Mosaic Law.
If he had said that she should be stoned,they would have said he was not merciful.That he was not practising what he preached:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”-Luke 6:36
They would have also had an evidence to prove to his followers that He was truly not the Messiah.Afterall,how could a merciful Saviour support the killing of a defenceless woman without asking the same punishment to be meted out to the man that slept with her?
Option 2:He could say the woman should be pardoned.
If he had said she should be forgiven and freed,they would have said he was opposing Moses’ Law.In other words,that Jesus was antagonistic to Moses’ teachings. The law of Moses prescribed a capital punishment for the woman caught in adultery.Therefore,if Jesus said she could be forgiven without any punishment,it would have set Jesus up against his ardent followers that also held Moses in high esteem.
If Jesus Christ had given any response either way,he would have fallen into their trap.
Option 3:He remained quiet!This is one of those times it is wise to say nothing.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
Let me digress a bit: It is not compulsory you respond to all questions you are asked!Or give your inputs in any discussion.Sometimes silence is golden.
“Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?”But Jesus was silent and made no reply...”-Mark 4:60-61a
It is not a sign of insurbodination or weakness if you decide to keep quiet when you know that your response may cause you to sin, implicate you or put others in trouble.Rather,it is a sign of maturity if you keep quiet in those instances.
“…if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body”-James 3:2
Alright,let’s continue with the main issue:
On one hand,Mrs B deserved to be stoned to death according to the law of Moses.On the other hand,she could be pardoned according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.Judgement and mercy then faced each other in battle.
Judgement says :She has committed adultery and she must be stoned to death
Mercy says:“I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”-Romans 9:15
Mercy said NO!
Jesus settled the conflict between judgement and mercy by this simple request:
“Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
“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”:John 8:9
“And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing before him”-King James 2000Bible
While the woman was waiting to get hit on her head with stones,all her accusers were leaving the scene one after the other.Only two people were left there:She and Jesus Christ(the only person there without sin).
“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more”-John 8:10-11
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”-Romans 8:1
Mercy triumphed over judgement for her.
Has judgement triumphed over mercy in any aspect of your life?Have you done one thing or the other that has brought disaster and severe judgement on you?Are you living with complications of your past wayward life? Are you depressed by the guilt of your sins? Are you condemned either by your conscience or the devil? Go ahead and plead for God’s mercy now.
The devil who is your main accuser has brought you before Jesus Christ.But unlike the woman caught in adultery, you are standing on a better covenant.You can approach God’s throne with confidence because of Christ’s death and resurrection:
“Therefore we should come with boldness to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and may find grace for help in time of need”-Hebrew 4:16
Ask for mercy …and you will receive mercy in this time of need.
Whenever you know that you are stuck and all hell has been let loose on you,just plead for God’s mercy! King David modelled that when he was harangued by sin and its complications.’Have mercy on me,O God’ was the first statement he made:
“A psalm of David.When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love…”-Psalm 51:1
Irrespective of the sins you have committed,the mercy of God can be made available for you if you ask Him.Therefore,bow down your head and humble yourself before God as you say this simple prayer:
Have mercy on me,O God and let your mercy triumph over judgement in every aspect of my life.
God’s mercy is made available for you in Jesus’ name.Amen.
However, remember the last statement of Jesus Christ to Mrs B after she was pardoned by him:
“Go and sin no more”.