The story of the woman caught in adultery told in John 8:1-11, is one of my favorites. According to the laws of her time, this woman deserved death, yet her story is one that can inspire us to become biblical women of influence.
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Exposed: A Woman Caught in Adultery
Have you ever done something you wish no one ever found out about? Something you knew was wrong but for whatever reason, you did it anyway…but unfortunately, your secret was exposed and everyone knew what you had done. This was the situation the woman who had been caught in adultery found herself in.
In Bible times, an adulterer was either a married person who had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, or a single person who had relations with a married person. It didn’t matter if they were male or female, the penalty for both persons caught in the act was death. Death by stoning.
Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t go into details–but we have imaginations…and movies. The death penalty would have been painful and drawn out. But before she paid the penalty the law demanded, this woman found herself exposed before her peers.
Maybe her crimes were known but had been ignored. But when the scribes and Pharisees brought her to the temple, she had nowhere to hide. She had to stand before her community–alone in her sins.
As the woman caught in adultery stood exposed before her peers, she learned a lesson that each of us needs to learn one day: when we belong to God we are never alone. My friend, Jesus has paid the price for our sins. He accepted the death penalty so we don’t have to.
Like the woman caught in adultery, sometimes its when things get really bad and we are facing the consequences of or actions that we truly realize what we have done or how far we have drifted from God. But though we disobey and walk away from God He never leaves us. He keeps drawing us back to Himself hoping that one day we’ll allow ourselves to be saved.
Instead of death, she received grace. Instead of condemnation, she received forgiveness. Instead of an identity of an adulteress, she became the daughter of God.
The Woman Who Deserved Death
Let’s imagine it together: Jesus was teaching in the temple in front of a large crowd when there’s an uproar. A woman is forcibly brought to stand in front of him by a mob. For modesty’s sake, she’s wrapped up in bed linens – linens that are dirty and tangled around her feet.
“This woman was caught in the act of adultery.” the scribes and Pharisees declare. “What do you think we should do with her?” they ask.
To understand what’s happening here we have to go back a few hundred years. Back to the time when Moses was still alive, just after the children of Israel had been delivered from the land of Egypt. They were taken from a culture where “open relationships” were the norm. It was okay for a married man to sleep with a woman other than his wife. It was accepted that sometimes a married woman would sleep with a man who was not her husband.
A short time later God revisits the topic of adultery: “I don’t think I said enough about it last time. He who commits adultery: the adulterer and the adulteress – both shall be put to death (Leviticus 20:10).” The death penalty at that time was executed by stoning. Fast-forward to the woman in the temple.
Put yourself in her shoes for a moment. The words “caught in the very act” echo in her mind. “But I wasn’t alone! Where’s -?”
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