Setting up a sting

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. John 8:3

What do I mean by the sting? Most of the time a sting includes a setup, putting circumstances, events and people into place that a person can be trapped in word or deed. In John 8:4 the Pharisees were setting the trap, trying to find a reason to condemn Jesus. One of the reasons they hated Him so much was because of the changes He was bringing about by His teaching and application.

In John 8:3 it mentions the scribes and Pharisees bringing the adulteress woman to Jesus. The scribes were the most expert people versed in the law of God. They were often teachers of the law and many times were Pharisees themselves. This leads us to an important question: where was the man who was involved with the woman in the act of adultery? The experts in the law would have known that the man, along with the woman, were to be stoned, Leviticus 20:10. Also in Deuteronomy 22:22 it says, “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman.”

In Mark 8:5 the Pharisees quote from the Law of Moses, but they conveniently leave out the part about the man. Why did they seem to forget that part? Let’s ask some more questions. How did they know where to find a woman who was in the very act of sexual immorality? How did they get the timing just right?

Is it possible that some men of that group knew of the woman themselves, and had visited with her? When Jesus wrote on the ground, was He writing the names of some men who were in the group condemning the woman? Is it possible those men knew if the woman was condemned, they could be as well, because of their involvement with her or some other woman?

In Genesis chapter 38, we can read the account of Judah and Tamar. Judah vehemently condemned his daughter-in-law (Tamar) for her immorality. In verse 25 Judah says, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” When Tamar produces the proof that Judah is the father of the child, as well as being a hypocrite and a liar, he quickly changed his tune.

Is it possible that the account of the adulterous woman (John 8:3) was like that of Judah. It does seem that Jesus was giving the scribes and Pharisees a lesson on humility and the total depravity of man. In Romans 2:21-22 Paul wrote, “You therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, do not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?”

We can’t know for sure what Jesus was writing on the ground, but it had something to do with sin and accountability. Jesus says in verse 7, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Jesus used the Law of Moses that the scribes and Pharisees knew and quoted it back to them, Deuteronomy 17:7.

The scribes and Pharisees were now the ones being set up by their own scheme. They quickly changed their minds and no one picked up a stone or tried to condemn the woman. Jesus knew the hearts, minds and purpose of the men before they questioned Him.

Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us, “For the Word (Jesus) of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to whom we must give account.”

God knows the heart, mind and will of each one of us. We can take off the religious mask and stop playing the hypocritical game, He already knows!

Comments or questions, contact me at: thoughtsonword@gmail.com.


Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published two books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.


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