SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The religious leaders brought to Jesus a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. It seems they were trying to set a trap for Jesus since they didn’t bring in the man they caught her with. But Jesus gives them a lesson on judgment when he says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Although the religious leaders carefully followed the rules of religion, the truth is they were sinners and still needed forgiveness just like the woman.
- Throughout the rest of the conversation Jesus has with the Pharisees (legalistic religious leaders) in this chapter, he is trying to help them see that they are not as righteous as they claimed. And that when you sin you become a slave to sin and need someone to set you free, which is what Jesus came to do.
- Abraham is mentioned a lot in this chapter. He was kind of the founder of the Jewish faith, and so when the people speak of him being their father and they his children, they are speaking of (and boasting about) their faith.
- Jesus and the Pharisees also argue about Jesus' identity. Jesus says that he did not need to glorify himself, that his Father would do that for him, but does share who he is. In verse 58 Jesus says, “before Abraham was born, I am!” This is a clear reference to the Old Testament, when God first met with Moses and called himself by the name ”I am” (see Exodus 3:13-14). Jesus was claiming here that he is God, and the Pharisees clearly understood this, which is why “they picked up stones to stone him” (verse 59). They were going to kill him on the charge of blasphemy.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Jesus' actions towards the woman caught in adultery are compassionate (he saved her life and said he didn't condemn her) and challenging (he told her to leave her life of sin). In the same way, Jesus is compassionate towards you but will also challenge you to live a better life.
- Too often we want to judge and condemn others, but Jesus says that is only our role if we are "without sin."
- Jesus said, "if I glorify myself, my glory means nothing" and explained that only God glorifying him "counts." In the same way, we should never seek to glorify ourselves, and live for God's approval alone.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- In what area of your life might Jesus show you compassion? Where might he challenge you to leave your life of sin? Why don't you spend some time praying about those areas of your life?
- Who do you find yourself judging? Unless you are without sin, you need to leave judgment to God and focus instead on yourself.