The Bad Woman, Part 2

The account in John 8, of the woman caught in adultery, is one about which I have written before, not long ago. But I am drawn to this story like a moth to a flame, and I want to write more about it.

I have puzzled over this, wondering why I find the story so compelling. I have looked for things I may have in common with the woman. It's been an interesting search, with some dead ends: I am not a woman, for example, nor am I an adulterer, at least in the sense of a physical act. If we consider the life of my mind, however....

But if I think of her adultery in a more basic sense, it's just a sin. Not a special sin, though a serious one. Though serious, it's a sin not unlike many others. And many of those others are things I have done as willfully as the woman did hers.

So, the bottom line is that I am equally guilty. I have been caught in the act of sinning against God and others. Just like her. And just like her, I deserve a severe punishment: death. I deserve to die.

But then came Jesus. When all was lost, when there was no hope, there was Jesus. We could say Jesus was hope made alive in her life. We could say Jesus set her free from the outcome of her chosen acts. And equally, he sets us free from the death resulting from our chosen acts, and even more, offers us a rich, full life with him.

But how does that explain my attraction to the story of the hapless woman? Just in case some of my readers are slow to get the point.

It's because the woman was a "bad" woman, a blatant sinner with no excuse as she stood before the judge, and I am a "bad" man, a blatant sinner with no excuse as I stand before the judge.

Except, there is Jesus. And Jesus makes all the difference.

First, Jesus challenged the accusers, who had no interest in justice, only entrapment. And after they had left, he demonstrated the deepest grace and most profound love toward the woman: "Is there no one to condemn you?" "No, my lord." "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more."

There is Jesus.

"Now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."

What glorious news! What an earthshaking pronouncement! What if everyone who heard these words would truly believe them? This place would never be the same. Hallelujah!

But there are sins, I rationalize, which I have not committed. I'm not a murderer, an embezzler, or any one of many dozens of different flavor of sinner. Perhaps I'm not all that bad. But it matters not.

Someone once asked how many people must one kill to be a murderer. And the answer, of course, is, one. Only one. So then, who is most the murderer, King David, or Adolph Hitler?

In that sense, they are equal. Both have taken innocent life.

There is also an equality if we change the question to sinner, rather than murderer. Who is the greater sinner, the woman or the one presently writing about her?

We have both sinned. We have both sinned greatly. And so, as we stand before the judge, both must plead, "Guilty, your Honor." All the rest is details.

And yet, Jesus accepted her, saved her life, forgave her, and, refusing to condemn her, sent her on her way.

And so he accepts me.

And so he accepts you.



Jesus said: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”.
A rock came hurtling out of the crowd, striking the adulterous woman in the temple, killing her.
Jesus looked into the crowd and said: “Mother, sometimes you really irk me.”
Sorry. Old Catholic joke … now that I got that out of my system …
The woman was caught in the very act, I assume that her lover had to also have been caught in the very act, yet seemingly escaped the witnesses. Perhaps his name is what Messiah scribbled in the dirt. Pure speculation on my part.
Was her sin any worse than mine? I am held to a higher standard than she was. If I even entertain the thought, I am guilty. If I follow up on that thought, I then am even more guilty of sin that she, and my punishment should be double hers, and I would deserve being killed twice. She escaped an early death. I escaped a more permanent death.
I have been accused of overworking mercy. Yeah. I do work it pretty hard. Sometimes I feel that I don’t get better, just sneakier.
Thanks for the insights!


Looking into the account of the adulterous woman it is easy to see that we all are guilty before our just judge and redeemer who wants ALL to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith and it is HE who will be the ultimate judge on the last day. Christ knows everything and he died for the entire world, so with that being said, is it possible that the adulterous woman had a life changing experience seeing that this man called Jesus forgave her of her sin already knowing that she believed and did not cast judgment because she already had faith because of that experience of almost being stoned or did he forgive her and just say go and sin no more like the rest of us should do with each other.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, but she saw her LORD and Savior right in front of her eyes and was she converted at that time? We are as I have always understood the Scripture that we have nothing to do in any way for our salvation but it is a gift of God not of works lest any man should boast and that He died for the entire world (everyone). We only do good works as an un-saving fruit of faith to show others that we are Christians and that we do good works only because we love Christ. Christ
possibly saw in his omniscience that she already had faith because of this life changing experienced and by HIS grace she was able to convert many more because of this. Christ is God and He is all knowing and is everywhere at all times. We have to believe because of His work, passion, and redemption and resurrection. We are saved by GRACE alone-underserved love.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I especially like the last sentence: We are saved by GRACE alone. As to the rest, I'm not so sure. Lots of speculation there.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As for your 'humor,' well...

I just wonder why the man with whom the woman
was caught up in the act of adultery was not
brought to the trial or before the judge to be
stoned to death. One thing was sure that the
main target was Jesus but the victim here was a
woman. I am not a feminist but such acts of men
drive me crazy. One insight that i get from this
incident is that people in their warfare always
victimize the voiceless and the powerless people
who for them have no worth in the society. This
happened then and this happens even now. The
role Jesus played at this crucial point was very
revolutionary and life changing. He saved the
woman and at the same time shut the mouths of
those who thought of manipulating the law and
the whole system of justice. Whenever I come
across this passage it reminds me of my
responsibility toward God and his creation.
Everyone of us have been called to do what Jesus
did and that is what our theology too supposed
to do!


My apologies for the long delay in replying to your comments. You raise a good question: where was the man? It's impossible to commit adultery alone, of course. Why was only the woman brought forward?

I think you are also correct that the "target" of this was Jesus. It had nothing to do with a desire to uphold the law or maintain justice. It was yet another attempt to entrap Jesus, and the woman was an unfortunate victim, even though she was guilty before the law. The best part of this story, for me, is that Jesus looked past her sin and saw the larger picture, and in response showed great love and mercy toward the woman.

I also agree that this happens in many forms today, over much of the world. It happens here in America where I am, and probably where you are as well. I believe the church, as the people who follow this same Jesus, must stand against injustice and oppression wherever they find it. Jesus died for all, and all have great value in his eyes. Therefore, a crime against "the least of these" is a crime against Jesus and against every one of his people.

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  • Larry Baden said:
      Poonam, My apologies for the long delay in replying to your comments....
  • Poonam Rai said:
      I just wonder why the man with whom the woman was caught up in the ac...
  • Larry Baden said:
      George, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As for your 'humor,' well......
  • Larry Baden said:
      Truth, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I especially like the last se...
  • Truth Told said:
      Looking into the account of the adulterous woman it is easy to see tha...
  • George Fowler said:
       Jesus said: “He who is without sin, cast the first stone”. A rock ca...

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