The Woman Caught in Adultery

God’s Law Versus God’s Grace

John 8:1-11

March 22, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction


A.    In John chapter 8, there are 11 sentences, 11 verses that are so controversial, and so powerful –

B.     They form the stage for the great battle between God’s Law, and God’s Grace

C.     How can both co-exist?


1.      The Law demands justice – if there is no justice, then God is not holy and right. He would be exposed as unjust, and a fraud

2.      Grace demands forgiveness – if there is no grace, then no one can be forgiven, and heaven will be empty


D.    How can anyone experience BOTH God’s Law and God’s Grace?

E.     One women did just that, and through her humiliation, was transformed!


II.    Background (John 8:1-4)


A.    It was the Feast of Tabernacles, in early October.


1.      A week long celebration of God’s provision and care of the nation of Israel when they were in the wilderness deserts for 40 years. God gave them Manna every day, quail sometimes in the evenings, and plenty of water along their journey. All in the desert, and for the entire 40 years!

2.      Jerusalem is packed with people worshipping God at the Temple. It was packed!


B.     Jesus has come into Jerusalem, early in the morning, and is sitting down on the steps of the Temple, and people began to gather around Him, to listen to Him teach from the Scriptures about God. A large crowd has gathered around Jesus.

C.    It was then, that a group of angry men broke through the crowd of people… Pharisees, Scribes, Lawyers - The most righteous and most religious of people

D.    And they brought a woman with them into the Temple

E.     And not just any woman – an adulteress!

F.     They placed her right in the middle of everyone – on public display. This was the worst kind of public humiliation imaginable

G.    They announce loud and clear, THIS WOMAN WAS CAUGHT IN THE VERY ACT OF ADULTERY (John 8:4)


1.      Adultery – means the unfaithfulness of any married person to their marriage bed.

2.      It is when someone gives their body to another person, when it belongs to their husband or wife

3.      Or, it is when someone enters into a marriage bed that does not belong to them!

4.      It is a serious offence! Always has been serious, and believe me, no matter how enlightened you may think you are, it always will be a serious offense!

5.      God’s seventh commandment, in Exodus 20:14 says quite clearly, “Thou shalt NOT commit adultery.”


H.    Here were the facts:


1.      Accused of adultery – either violating her own marriage vows, or participating in the break up of a marriage

2.      Undeniable evidence against her

3.      She could not plead ignorance, nor innocence

4.      She was guilty!

5.      She could not blame the law – it is right to call for death! For justice!

6.      Everyone in the crowd knew what God’s law demanded – everyone was agreeing with the death penatly! There were growls, and “Hear hears”, and “Stone her, Stone her” spoken by the crowd around this woman!

7.      This woman was doomed


I.       But, this obviously was a trap (8:6)


1.      These religionists were not interested in justice, or protecting marriage and the family! They were only interested in trapping Jesus, and ruining His ministry!

2.      The man was not brought with her – it takes TWO to tango

3.      They did not bring the adulterous couple to the judges

4.      No. They brought the woman before public opinion (the first facebook)

5.      And the judgment was left up to Jesus alone! HE ALONE would be deciding her fate!

6.      All this had evidently been planned, and even done all to box him in, cause Him to commit political suicide! At least, that was the Pharisee’s hope!


J.      Here was the Dilema – “What sayest THOU?” (8:5)


1.      What God’s Law Demanded


a.       That she should be stoned (Lev 20:10; Deut 22:21,22). Plain and simple!

b.      As should all the harlots and other sinners in His constant company!

c.       The Bible clearly says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

d.      It is just as clear as breaking any law:


1)      Breaking into a house and stealing a child

2)      Robbing a person of their paypacket

3)      Raping someone on their way home from work

4)      ALL of those crimes demand justice!


2.      What Jesus had been teaching…


a.       That we should turn the other cheek

b.      That you need to forgive and not be so quick to judge

c.       That harlots, and sinners and publicans were welcome in God’s kingdom (Mt 21:31)

d.      That bad people, SINNERS were just as important as religious and good people!


3.      Now, either Jesus would condemn this woman, and thereby condemn all His followers too, to the justice of God

4.      Or, Jesus will pardon this adulteress, and say that the sentence should not be executed (as they expected he would)


a.       They will expose Jesus as a friend of sin; approving of such wickedness, and letting it go unpunished

b.      They will expose Him as an enemy to the law of Moses, and as one that overruled God’s absolute laws, proving finally that He had lied, and actually came to destroy the law and the prophets.


5.      Either way, they would finally destroy Him!


K.    Let’s see how Jesus responds to this impossible “trap”!


III. Message


A.    Jesus Wrote on the Ground (8:6)


1.      Jesus ignored every one, and every thing going on at that moment – acted like they weren’t even there!


a.       Such a sin as adultery would have agitated everyone in the crowd, because such sin stabs at the very heart of any family, and society – not marriage is immune to the damage that adultery and unfaithfulness causes!

b.      Believe me, by this time, the crowd has only grown bigger

c.       Whatever Jesus does or says is going to have massive reprocusions


2.      And Jesus just stooped down and wrote on the ground in the dust of the ground


a.       What did He write? We don’t know. I have my ideas, but the Bible doesn’t say.

b.      Just notice… What a way to react to things going on around us!

c.       Restrained, thoughtful, careful, slow to wrath! Thank God that God is patient!

d.      So many people are so quick to judge, attack, and agree with the popular opinions around us – just try to read the harsh opinions of people under statements made on facebook!!!


3.      Well, the Pharisees got upset at Jesus ignoring them – furious that He was not responding!

4.      So they kept pushing and pressing Him for His answer

5.      He HAD to publically make a choice and decide the fate of this wretched woman


a.       Condemn her as the law demanded?

b.      Or let her go, and imply that sins are not sins anymore, and that adultery, and murder should just be always forgiven and overlooked?

c.       Which will it be?


B.     Jesus Disqualified The Crowd (8:7)


1.      After a long pause… Jesus finally stood


a.       And with the Authority of Mt Sinai… with the voice of Moses… with the power of an earthquake…


2.      Jesus called for any of them who had no sin, to carry out the justice!


a.       Think about it. Jesus looked straight into the eyes of every accuser

b.      Asking them if they believed they were QUALIFIED to condemn this woman


3.      And then, He stooped down again, and continued to write on the ground, waiting for His words to take effect

4.      Then, one by one, starting with the oldest, those angry, envious, jealous men began to drop their heads, and turn around, and leave, taking their stones with them!

5.      Not a word was said. Probably not a sound was made, as every last man embarrassingly turned and walked away as fast as they could!


C.    What Just Happened Here?


1.      Conviction, guiltiness on the part of those wanting to judge the guilty


a.       And believe me, they were eat-up with guilt!

b.      These men, ALL OF THEM, were quite aware of how sinful THEY had been to lure this woman into the bed of a married man, so that they could destroy Jesus!

c.       These men were instantly aware of just how many times they had lusted after women all their lives in their hearts

d.      These men became very guilty in their heart of hearts of all their own sinful living that was deserving of the death penalty


1)      The sin of trying to turn over the judging of this woman to public opinion and to the opinion of one Man!

2)      The hatred towards Jesus that drove them to seek ways to kill Him (an innocent man)

3)      Their thievery and robbery of the people who came to the Temple everyday

4)      Their cursing of their own parents in their hearts, which they knew was wrong

5)      Their awful sin of murmuring and having a critical spirit against everything and everyone that was not just like them


2.      Only the words of Jesus could have this effect on grown men!

3.      Jesus had honoured God’s law, calling for her to be stoned! DON’T MISS THIS!


a.       Jesus NEVER taught it is okay to commit adultery

b.      Jesus never said being a harlot is okay, or stealing is not so bad!

c.       He never implied that ANY SIN ever became okay, and shouldn’t be judged!

d.      No! Those sins were wrong and still are wrong!

e.       And should be judged!

f.       The question is, by WHOM?


4.      But He unplugged the self-righteousness of these religionists, who had ignored the safeguards of the law to try and destroy Him


a.       You see, God’s law, and even all of MAN’S laws demand that JUDGES be appointed to judge criminals – or else our streets would be filled with vigilantes, and rioters

b.      AND, that judges must never be guilty of the very crimes they are judging others for!

c.       These religious men had not honoured God’s law – they had ignored it! And so they were not qualified to use it against this woman!


D.    Jesus Saves the Sinful Woman (8:10)


1.      Finally, there were two people remaining in the centre of that large crowd in the Temple: the Woman, and Jesus!

2.      The woman could not say anything – she was guilty, plain and simple! What can such a person say?

3.      So, Jesus spoke…


a.       “Woman, where are thine accusers?”

b.      What happened to the case against you?

c.       Where is all the evidence that proved your guiltiness?

d.      It was then that she looked around and saw nobody but Jesus! What a good thing to see!

e.       “No man, Lord.” There seems to be no one here to condemn me… except YOU!


4.      Jesus  publically announces, “Neither do I condemn you!”


a.       “I choose NOT to condemn you” (Cf Psalm

b.      Oh, If ANYONE had the right to cast a stone at this sinful woman, it would have been the perfect, righteous, sinless Son of God. He was perfectly qualified to both judge and condemn this woman!

c.       Never forget that Jesus is infinitely holy, and is against sin – He HATES sin like a Mother hates dirt!

d.      Yet there is no one more compassionate towards sinners, than this very same Jesus!

e.       You see, He knows us already – knows ALL our sins – knew every sin of every man around Him. He knew ALL of this woman’s adulteries, not just this one act!

f.       Yet, He forgave!


5.      Jesus forgave this woman’s awful sin, Not because…


a.       Her sin didn’t matter anymore

b.      He loved her so much to let her be punished so harshly

c.       The death penalty is so barbaric and unfair


6.      But because…


a.       The Law is still right. It is so necessary!


1)      Adultery is still wrong and always will be wrong!

2)      So, Jesus did NOT ignore the law. He is the only person is all of history who willingly accepted the justice of God’s law for all sinners, for all time on HIMSELF!


b.      He was just personally going to pay for her adultery Himself on the cross – she did not now have to pay for her sinful action in hell (2Cor 5:21)


1)      Jesus had come, not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17)

2)      Did not call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32) – because there are no perfectly righteous people (people who do not need a Saviour)


c.       God’s righteous law could not make her righteous – could never save her, nor can it ever save anyone else! It only exposes sin, and condemns it!

d.      So Jesus came to save her, and anyone who will only believe!


7.      If this guilty woman had not found grace in the presence of Jesus, she would have ended up in hell!


E.     Jesus Empowers Her New Life (8:11)


1.       “Go!” is a freeing statement


a.        “You are FREE to go” is the statement of a judge who finds no fault in a person on trial

b.      Don’t just sit there defeated… Get going! You have been given a whole new life – start living it! You have been given a second chance! Don’t miss it!

c.       It is the same as if she had just died and was now resurrected!


2.       “Sin no more!” is an impossible statement


a.       This was not freedom to go and sin more! But to sin NO MORE!

b.      This a call for her to repent – to make a choice to sin no more

c.       If she had just walked away from that event, and never made a choice to live differently, she would have fallen back into the very same trap again and again, and died in hert sins!

d.      Proverbs 28:13 says, “confesseth and FORSAKETH”

e.       Isaiah 1:18  Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

f.       From now on ladies and gentlemen…


1)      Take your sin seriously – God does! The very reason why most people get trapped by sin is because they constantly play with it, and don’t take it seriously!

2)      By the grace of Christ, you can live a life free of the dominion of sins

3)      From now on, your past shall not have dominion over you – let Me have dominion

4)      Sins can be put in the past, and left there (1Cor 6:9-11)

5)      Eph 5:8


IV. Application – What About US?


A.    One day, we ALL will be brought before GOD’S judgment (Hebrews 9:27)


1.      Ecc 12:14  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

2.      Not the judgment of our culture, or our religion, or our own conscience even – we won’t be on TV, but before God Almighty!

3.      Believe me, every skeleton will be brought out into the light! Everything sinful you ever did will be shouted from the housetops – no hidden secrets then!

4.      God will bring everything into judgment!


a.       Every idle word you have ever spoken will be brought into judgment

b.      Every hurtful action

c.       Every lustful look

d.      Every covetous desire

e.       Every flippant use of God’s holy name

f.       Every time we put something more important than God

g.      Will all be revealed, and condemned!


B.     Here are the facts:


1.      You and I are sinners, just like this woman

2.      Undeniable evidence against all of us

3.      None of us can plead ignorance, nor innocence

4.      We are guilty!

5.      We cannot blame the law – it is right to call for death! For justice! (Rom 6:23)

6.      Just like this woman, we are all doomed before God!


C.    You can never undo your sin


1.      Even if this woman lived like a good little girl for the rest of her life and never committed adultery again, it would never repair the damage her adultery caused!

2.      No amount of good works can make up for our sinful works!

3.      GRACE has to work, first in the sinner’s heart, and then in the hearts of those we have sinned against!


D.    You see, the truth is, NO one is righteous, no not one (Mt 23:27,28; Rom 3:19,20)!


1.      No Pope, no priest, no pastor, no TD, no banker, no baker is without sin!

2.      ALL are sinners! Especially the most religious people! Sometimes the most religious people are the most sinful!

3.      The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can experience forgiveness and a new life like this woman!


E.     The best thing to ever happen to you is to GET CAUGHT in your sin (like this woman was), and be absolutely condemned – absolutely guilty


1.      You see, what you feare getting caught doing, needs to be found it


a.       Your pornography, your muttering under your breath, your lying, stealing, thieving

b.      Your sneaking out of the house at night, you late night TV watching

c.       Your secret stash of drink, or drugs, or fags, or canabis



2.      It is better that our sin shame us before it damns us

3.      You probably are way too worried about your reputation

4.      But it is so much better to save our souls that save our reputation

5.      The best thing to happen is to have something happen that just shuts you up. Romans 3:19  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.


F.     And to get completely forgiven (Romans 8:1; 4:7,8)!!!

G.    Grace is…


1.      Not a change in the nature of sin – how wrong and bad it is – but a change in WHO will end up paying for it

2.      Not allowing people to KEEP sinning, but giving everyone a reason to STOP sinning, and start living holy and godly lives

3.      Not ignoring God’s laws, but honouring them, and living by them, no matter how hard

4.      Loving someone so opposite than you, and so different than you, that you take the blame and punishment for all their wrongs, so that they can see what real love really looks and acts like

5.      Seeking to fix people and restore people and help people BEFORE they have to face the righteous wrath of almighty God!


V.    Conclusion and Invitation


A.    Can you believe some people think these 11 verses don’t belong in the Bible?

B.     Obviously, this event shows the power of GRACE, not of LAXNESS, over sin, and people want to focus more on their own goodness, and their ability to judge and condemn others instead of themselves!

C.     Are you willing to risk your eternity, hoping that your secret sins, your private sins, will never be discovered? Well, they already are known, and will be exposed one day at God’s judgment!

D.    Will you not rather look to Jesus, and accept the work HE did, taking YOUR place on the cross, paying YOUR death penalty, so that you could go, and sin no more?

E.     Wouldn’t you rather be saved from hell, than hold onto your sinful pride and reputation?

F.     Once a sin has been exposed in your life:


1.      Be completely honest about it – open it up – let light in

2.      Let the blood of Jesus Christ wash the sin and stain clean

3.      Allow the past to be healed by Jesus – forgiven

4.      Get to living again, and don’t sin that way anymore

5.      Forgive your accusers

6.      Let Jesus be your Lord now!