Let's take the story of the woman caught in adultery from the gospel of John 8: 1-11, as it is often misunderstood simply because it is not read closely.
The question we are asking ourselves, of course, is what exactly were the religious leaders, the Pharisees, motives at the time.
So first, let’s start by looking at a couple of verses from the story:
6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger and wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
A familiar story, to be sure, but John gives us the Pharisees' true motivation.
According to John, the Pharisees bring this woman before Jesus because they are trying to find grounds to eliminate a competing Rabbi. They are jealous of Jesus’ fame and following and want Him permanently removed.
John makes it plain that the Pharisees could care less about the Mosaic law.
Speaking of the Mosaic law though, the way the Old Testament law reads is that both the man and the woman caught in adultery must be stoned at the same time.
Like, where’s the man?
Again, check out the original law found, I believe, in Deuteronomy.
The Pharisees, so steeped in the law, are not actually following it, because the last thing they cared about is whether the law is being followed or not.
Lest we all start feeling smug in our own self-right-doing, never forget, we all have the heart of a Pharisee. We all fall short.
But that is the problem with the law: it cannot be followed by anyone really. Jesus said that even if you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have as good as committed adultery with her in your heart (Matthew 5:23).
As Paul points out in Romans, chapters 2 & 3, the law was given to expose our sin. So that we know that we are sinners and we need a Savior.
The Mosaic law was pretty much made obsolete when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with it and found the Israelites violating the 1st Commandment by worshipping a golden calf.
The Israelites’ Old Testament history as told by the Prophets of old has Israel making the law obsolete to the point of being exiled a several occasions. Although, it does need to be pointed out that there were times when things went well, like during King David’s reign.
Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17).
God knows our hearts. Was Jesus’ heart pure and sinless? He could not have performed the works He did without this being true.
As the story goes, the Pharisees are simply terrorizing this woman. They don’t care about her immortal soul or her behavior. They only care about eliminating someone who continues to expose their hypocrisy. To them it’s a competition.
They worship themselves, not God.
It’s a common problem to this day. That is why this story continues to be very relevant to us today.
A lot is made out of the finger writing on the ground by Jesus. My pastor recently preached on this subject and I’d liked to share his viewpoint. He said that the law was given by the finger of God, as told in Exodus. And here you have Jesus, the Son of God, writing with his finger while the law is being confronted. Jesus is reminding the Pharisees that God knows their sin all too well.
A human heart is restored or reconciled to God through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. No human work can satisfy God’s wrath because it was already satisfied through the death, burial and resurrection of the Son of God.
So, go, and sin no more.