Many are familiar with the biblical account recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 8, of the “woman caught in adultery”. The story seems rather simple and straightforward. A woman caught in the act of adultery is brought to Jesus as a trap, to corner him. One can only imagine the fever pitch of emotions swirling among those intent on entrapping Christ. Can you imagine what they might have felt toward her and toward Jesus. It seems both of them were on trial for their lives. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were focused on her sin. They saw the outward act of her fallen nature, the fruit of her wounds, poor choices and possible addictions. It appears their offer to her is death – condemnation’s only fruit.
Jesus saw something vastly different. He saw a woman trapped, trapped in sin. Was it generational sin, lack of fathering and mothering, abusive relationships, etc., that brought her to this stage of her life? Jesus did not ask. Jesus has a better way for dealing with sin and its brokenness.
And this side of the story, not often told, is captivating. Jesus says to her in verse 11 “…Go now and leave your life of sin.” (NIV) The word “Go” is very interesting. At the surface level it means to traverse, travel, remove, depart, journey, walk (“poreuomai” Greek Strong’s Number 4198). This word is derived from another greek word which means attempt, test, experience, assaying, trial (“peira” Greek Strong’s Number 3984). And finally, another derivative in this word family is “peran” (Greek Strong’s Number 4008), which means through, across, side, over, beyond, farther. The idea of piercing is implied in these words.
Jesus is inviting the woman caught in adultery to a life journey with him. This journey will entail testings and trials. Jesus will walk her through the piercing of her wounds that they may be healed. The old structures she has used to find life will be removed. In place of the old, Jesus will offer himself as her source of life. As it were, he is offering her a way to cross over Jordan into Canaan’s land, the new birth and beyond. She represents all of us who have been caught in adultery with this world and our fallen nature. Jesus is offering us an invitation to find new life in him, and him alone, true joy, peace and rest. No less than restoration.
Jesus response to her is the heart of the gospel, the commission of his Father. He brings good news to her, inviting her to journey with him. He offers to bind up the broken pieces of her heart, tests, trials and sacrifice being part of that process. And he proclaims liberty and freedom to her captive soul, offering to pierce her wounds that she might be healed and restored to God’s original plan of making man and woman into his image and likeness.
What is also interesting about this account is Jesus had the opportunity to make the same offer to her accusers. Certainly, his commission extends to her accusers as well, or we all would be lost. What was it about the state of their hearts that precluded Christ from making the same offer to them – or did he when he wrote on the ground?
Jesus did not reject her. He did not inquire about her history. He did not consider her a failure, unfit for the kingdom. On the contrary, he saw her broken places as an opportunity to plant the kingdom of God in her heart. She did not have time to cover her brokenness and nakedness like Adam and Eve. She was caught in the act. She was exposed and naked. What the teachers of the law and the Pharisees saw as a lost cause Jesus saw as an opportunity for a journey in God. Did she accept his offer? Do we?