“The scribes and Pharisees brought to Him
a woman caught in adultery.”
The scribes and the Pharisees? All of them? Some kind of weird field trip, I guess…
Did they all catch her in adultery? What where they doing, going door-to-door searching?
And how exactly did you catch someone in the act, in Bible times? I’m guessing there were no hotels to meet at; did they meet in a field somewhere, or outside of town? Or were they in a private home?
Circumstances being what they were, it strongly suggests that the woman was set up somehow. Verse 6 tells us that the reason the scribes and Pharisees got Jesus involved at all was because they were trying to trap Him, so they could accuse Him of something. So the idea that she was “trapped” rather than “caught” is more than plausible. It would also explain why, even though she was caught “in the very act,” there was no humiliated man standing beside her, awaiting condemnation.
But what intrigues the most upon this reading, is the state of mind of the woman herself as she was “brought to Him”. Did she know where they were taking her? If she did, if she heard them talking, what was she thinking? Had she heard of Him? What did she know about Him?
As mentioned, the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus by His response to this situation. Which says to me that they were highly suspicious that He would be too compassionate to be law-abiding. Had she too, heard about that legendary compassion?
I like to think so. I like to think she had hope as she walked, surrounded by arrogant, self-righteous and downright mean religious leaders. Even if it was only a little hope.
She was guilty. Whether this was her first time committing this crime or not, she was an adulteress. She knew it. We know it. And we know we’re guilty too, of something, although we could probably stand to be caught in the act a little more. Nothing convicts a sinning heart more than being caught in the act.
And you know what else she was? Already determined to never do it again. I believe that. She knew she was guilty. She may or may not have feared for her life. Capital punishment was the penalty, but the Jews were not allowed to carry it out without Roman permission. But they were powerful. I’d have been scared of them even if I hadn’t done anything wrong. Kind of like when I’m driving next to a police car. Suddenly I’m paranoid of what I might be doing wrong without realizing it. And I don’t even have a good reason to be scared of cops! She, on the other hand, had every reason to be paranoid of the Pharisees. Which, of course, means it’s not paranoia…
So I’m sure that as the group made their way to the Teacher, Rabbi, Savior, she was promising herself that if she lived through this, it would never happen again.
And the Lord’s response to her secured that. Compassion. Kindness. Mercy. But also justice, in the form of the religious leaders being sent away with their tails between their legs. And yet, neither did He condemn them. Did they too resolve in their hearts to “go and sin no more”? I think they did.
It’s His kindness, after all, that leads us to repentance.