Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 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.”
This is a familiar and famous story from the Bible, and the meaning seems obvious, except for one thing. What was Jesus writing on the ground? I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Well, I think He wrote all the sins of the scribes and Pharisees.”
I don’t think so. I really don’t. I don’t think He wrote all the sins of every guy there that day. What if He was writing the Ten Commandments? That could easily be what happened, because the Ten Commandments are unachievable. You can’t do everything right.
Can you see it? Jesus started writing the Ten Commandments on the ground, and He was looking down at them while He spoke. He said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone, because every one of you guys has broken these rules, I can tell you that right now. You’re coming at her with her adultery? Well, I’m coming at you because you didn’t honor your parents. Say, how many of you have served other things?”
Can you see that going on? And the scribes and Pharisees had to say, “You’re right! We’re out judging this woman right here, but I fall short in keeping the commandments. I may not be bad about honoring my parents, but just the other day I coveted something that isn’t mine.”
We all sin. We’re all the same. That’s why you can’t judge at all. That’s why Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” He knew no one there had a shot!
That’s why you rarely saw Jesus get upset with people. He looked at the adulteress, and He said, “Where are your accusers?” And she said, “They’re gone.” He didn’t yell at her or condemn her. He simply said, “Well, I don’t accuse you either.”
When He looked at her, He understood. Jesus knows that in our weakness, in our flesh, we are going to sin. So He just released her. But not before telling her, “Go, and sin no more.” And I think she understood what He meant. This was God looking at her and saying, “You have the ability, in me, to sin no more.”
And I think that’s where Jesus was just so good! He understood that people are not good. We aren’t. Because of Him, I understand that I am not good, and I understand that people are not good. In our flesh, we are not good.
We all have to understand that. We have to come to grips with that. If we can come to grips with that, I think we will judge a whole lot less.