Jesus had retired to the Mount of Olives and the next day in the morning returned to the Temple to teach. The Pharisees came also but not for the purpose of worshiping God but to entrap Jesus into saying something that they could accuse Him with. The motive of the Pharisees was not a love for God or even a zeal for righteousness. Neither was the motive a passion for purity and holiness and it was not their indignation against sin. Their only desire was to entangle Jesus in some utterance of word that could lead to His arrest, conviction, and death. It is necessary to ask how often we accuse others for sinful acts that we too are guilty of. So many people try to elevate themselves by finding fault with others and bringing them to the forefront.
The Pharisees brought a woman who had committed a sexually immoral act that was forbidden by the seventh comment of God’s Law given to Moses. (Exodus 20:14) The punishment for adultery was death. (Leviticus 20:10 Deuteronomy 22:22) The Pharisees thought they had Jesus caught in not being able to give a correct answer. If Jesus complied with the Law of Moses and said put the woman to death, they would have reported Jesus to the Roman authorities. The Jewish people could not execute people only the Romans had the authority to do that. If Jesus did not tell them to kill the woman then He would not be in obedience to the Law of Moses. Either way the Pharisees believed they had Jesus in a question He could not answer correctly.
Jesus paused by stooping down and writing in the dust. Many teachers of the day did this to draw an illustration of what they were teaching. John did not record what Jesus had written in the dust so for us it is not known. Perhaps Jesus was ashamed and needed to take a moment. He may have been ashamed for the woman who had been caught in this sinful act. Or knowing the hearts of the Pharisees Jesus may have been ashamed for them in their evil motives. It is also possible that Jesus wanted to see if the Pharisees would repeat the question.
The Pharisees persisted in the question they had asked and so Jesus stood up to answer them. Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees shows to each His divine wisdom and grace. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The first part of the answer is in compliance with the Law of Moses and so the Pharisees cannot say the Jesus was in violation. The seconded part of His answer deals with the moral issue of the woman’s accusers. The Pharisees considered themselves to be righteous above all others. They spent many hours studying the scriptures and were highly educated. They were often seen practicing their righteous behavior for all to observe. The translation of the word used for sin in verse seven speaks not only to the outward man but also to the inward man. The answer Jesus gave lifted the question out of only the legal reality into the moral reality as well. Jesus’ answer convicted, condemned, and silenced the Pharisees. If these Pharisees were to be the judge of men and their deeds, if they were to be the executers of justice, then they would have to live in the same purity of God.
The Pharisees then departed from the older to the younger one at a time considering the defeat of their plan against Jesus. It is interesting that they did not take the woman to the proper authorities for the crime she had committed. The Pharisees left the woman behind, which shows that their true concerned was not for justice for violating the Law of Moses but the entrapment of Jesus.
Jesus’ reply to the woman, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more,” implies that He could pass sentence upon her, that He could have condemned. Jesus did not condemn neither did He pardon her of guilt. Jesus warned her to go and sin no more. Jesus’ words were full of encouragement and we must assume the woman went away to a new and better live. His followers also learned a valuable lesson, “Judge not, that you not be judged.”
There is some argument as to the proper placement of the verses 1-11 in this book of the Gospel of John. Some early transcripts of the manuscript do not include verses 1-11 while others do. The problem is that in verses 12-20 follow Jesus’ teaching at the Festival of Tabernacles, which is where we find Him here. If verses 1-11 are misplaced verses 12-20 follow verse 52 from chapter 7.
In John 1:4-9 John describes Jesus as the light that gives life to everybody. Here Jesus describes Himself as the Light of the World. Jesus begins His sentence with “I am”. “I AM” is a special title that God gave Himself in Exodus 3:14.
During the Festival of Tabernacles the Temple and the city of Jerusalem was illuminated in remembrance of the cloud of glory God used to guide the Israelites in the wilderness. Here Jesus refers Himself as that light by telling the people that He is the light of the world. Jesus had already compared Himself to the rock from which the water flowed from and now He was comparing Himself to the Pillar of Fire. (Exodus 13:21) Jesus is claiming that He is able to guide and give light to all who follow Him. Jesus, as the Light of the World does more than just guide it actually makes the darkness disappear. Those who follow Jesus must continue with Him all the time. Walking with Jesus is a daily walk of learning and obedience.
The Pharisees here make another vain attempt to question the words and claim of Jesus. In a Jewish court of law if two testify then the testimony of two is considered as true. Jesus did not have another witness that the Pharisees could see and made a statement against Him. “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” Jesus answers that His Father testifies of Him by the written word and by the testimony of His works which He had preformed. The Pharisees replied, “Where is your Father?” The Pharisees did not have a full knowledge of Jesus and they probably did not really want to know. The Pharisees were so involved in their own legalistic form of religion that it was easier to remain in their self centered beliefs that to submit to One who had greater power and authority.
Jesus was speaking in the treasury of the Temple, a public place, and though the Pharisees wanted to size Him they were not able, as God controls the events of this world and the hour had not come yet.
The Jews are God’s chosen people and in the past God had spoken to then through the prophets like Moses and King David. Now God had sent His Son and the Jewish leaders did not recognize Him. Jesus had come from Heaven and would return to Heaven. Jesus was not from this world but from the Kingdom of Heaven. But because the Jewish leaders did not believe in Him they could not understand the things He was saying. They could only see things in the terms of the world and were unwilling to relate the words of Jesus in spiritual terms. Jesus said they were of the world. The Gospel of John in its use of the word world means everybody and everything that opposes God. Some thought Jesus intended to kill himself but Jesus was referring to where He was returning to after His resurrection. But they would not be able to follow Him because they did not believe Him. Therefore they would die in their sins because of their lack of belief and God would not forgive them.
Jesus testifies that He is not here on His own initiative but here to do the will of the Father. That He speaks and does only that which the Father tells Him to do. That Jesus does only that which is pleasing to the Father. Jesus also claimed that to know Him is to know the Father. In spite of the Jewish leaders rejection of Jesus many of the people believed in Him.
Jesus applies a test to the nominal believers which will show how real their faith is. “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” A discipleship with Christ is not just a passing emotion, no empty profession, but a patient determined walk in faith, study, and practice of the teachings of Jesus. This walk with Him will result in a moral freedom that cannot be obtained any other way.
The people were offended at the implication that they were slaves. Even though the Jewish people were under the domination of the Romans, their consciousness of descent from Abraham, their hope for a national future in the fulfillment of the promises, their present enjoyment of social and personal freedom, made them offended at the implication of servitude. Jesus points out that yielding to sin results to a moral slavery. If they would only have faith in Him as the Son of God they would be secure in freedom from sin and become the children of God. In spite of the physical facts however they may be they lacked a real moral relationship to Abraham, as was shown by their desire to kill Him.
If they were true Children of God, they would love and believe in Him as the Son of God. Because of their hatred of Him and an unwillingness to appreciate His message they show an actual moral relationship with the Devil.
Jesus restates that faith and unbelief is less concerned with the mind than with the heart. Faith requires a moral state and sympathy. “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
Then Jesus makes a promise along with a startling claim. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.” Jesus was speaking of blessedness in this present life and after the resurrection of the body and eternal life would reach its fullness. The people responded still without understanding and said that Abraham died, and also the prophets died, and as all will die. Jesus then claims that He has always been and always will be, and concludes with this statement, “”Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
The people then took up stones to cast Him out as a blasphemer and Jesus left them.
Exodus 20:14, Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, Exodus 3:14, Exodus 13:21