Let’s read verses 2-9: “Now early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?’ This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, he raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (NKJV).

This is a sad story indeed, for it teaches us that “all men are sinners,” not only the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, but also the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees who were using her to set a trap for the Lord Jesus. They knew Jesus had been preaching about God’s love and forgiveness and thus if Jesus refused to condemn her they could accuse Him of contradicting the Law of Moses. Instead of answering them immediately, He “stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger.” What did He write? The fact is we don’t know what Jesus wrote, for the Bible doesn’t tell us. Some believe He was writing out the Ten Commandments, just as He had done hundreds of years ago on Mount Sinai when He gave the Law to the nation of Israel. Exodus 31:18 states, “And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, he gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” Others believe He was writing the names of the scribes and Pharisees in the earth, as He had done in the days of Jeremiah when His people forsook the Lord. Jeremiah 17:13 says, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth.” It’s quite possible that the Lord was writing one or both of these things on the ground, but we can’t be sure. What we do know is that Jesus then spoke to them with these challenging words, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” In these words He was both upholding the Law of Moses and demanding that the executioners of the woman be without sin. In doing this He used the Law that condemned the adulterous woman to condemn her accusers. And His words had the desired effect, for “those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one.” It is true that the Lord Jesus also stooped down again and “wrote on the ground,” but it’s what the men HEARD that convicted them and not what they SAW.

I have often thought of how tragic it was that they left the Lord’s presence, for had they stayed they might have experienced the Lord’s forgiveness. How can I say that? Because the woman did! In verses 10-12 we read, “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you’? She said, ‘No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” This woman could have left right after her accusers, but something compelled her to stay. Here she was in the presence of the only man on earth that could stone her, for He had never sinned, yet faith enables her to not only stay, but to confess Him as Lord. This grand confession resulted in Jesus declaring, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” The Lord could say this because He was on His way to the cross to put away her sin, as indicated in John 3:17-18, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned.” (238.5) (DO)