Before we go any further, this story in John is an odd one. It does not show up in the earliest manuscripts that we currently have, however, the story does show up soon (time-wise) after the earliest manuscript. What is also unusual (in comparison to others stories) is that it doesn’t show up in exactly the same places. The very early church attested to the accuracy of the story, as do most scholars. However, because of its appearance later, there is probably a note in your bible about it. Again, this does not put the story in dispute.
The story is interesting, as many people have put their own spin on what Jesus was writing in the dirt. Could it have been a line? Was it a list of sins the men committed? Maybe it was as simple as, “love God; love others.” Many creative sermons have been delivered over what was written in the dirt, but not written in the Scriptures. The real question is judgment. Based on the context (setting Jesus up) and the lack of a male participant (who should have been stoned, too), there was no following the Law in Truth or Spirit. Even literally the law wasn’t followed (again, the lack of the man).
The Law, or the law (as in US jurisprudence) can be judged insofar as being evaluated and found regarding the preponderance of evidence as guilty or innocent of the charge. That is not the judgment in this instance. It is a judgment of value. This woman was judged to be less valued for she was a woman and an adulteress. The man involved was skipped over. Why was one granted mercy and grace (presumptive), while another was not?
Paul reminds us that we all will stand before the throne. Yes, if we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we will be spared the judgment. However, what if we stood before the throne and experienced the entirety of the emotional, spiritual, and physical pain of our sins (including what we have caused others). This would not be out of a desire to inflict pain, but for us to Truly understand the grace and mercy given to us.
1) Have you ever judged and/or condemned a person, then found out you were wrong? What was that like? Did you make amends? If not, why not?
2) We may be quick to judge the sins of others. What should we learn from the lesson of Jesus?
3) Paul speaks of the “fear of God”. How should that affect our views of judging others?