Women of the Bible: Caught in Adultery

“And your accusers? Where are they? Who is left to condemn you?” He asked me, his eyes gentle, compelling. His hands, still dusty…I could not take my eyes from them. It was something about his wrists.
“No one, my Lord,” I said, my voice hardly a whisper.


It was no use denying the truth, to proclaim her innocence: she had been caught.

It was folly to point out the obvious: that it’s impossible to commit adultery by oneself.

Inside her chest, her heart beat wildly. She knew that if the eyes of the law, married was married. There was no divorce and remarriage, covering it all over and beginning again.

She knew the law said, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”

For a moment, her mind pictured her mother–how shamed she would be viewed when she went to the temple, the market. She pictured her father–how he would turn away and deny her existence. She had broken both their hearts.

But still, her lover was not present. He would not be punished, and would gladly send her in his stead. The one she loved–and thought loved her back–was nowhere to be found. All those stolen nights seemed to flow through her fingers like so many grains of sands. Though equally guilty, he would remain innocent in this crime.

How did those who came for her know where to find her? Why did they leave the man untouched, unknown?The shouting, the many hands upon her–she was lucky in her nakedness to have grabbed the sheet from the bed so she wasn’t completely nude in front of these men–in front of THIS man, whose eyes seemed to penetrate to her very soul.

“Teacher! This woman was caught in the act of adultery. What say you? You know what Moses taught.” The men crowded around them, demanding justice, their faces contorted with judgement and haughtiness.

So this meeting was less about punishment for the woman and more about a transparent trap set by religious leaders for Jesus.

It’s likely the first the woman saw of Jesus was his feet. The men had thrown her at him, and she probably lost her footing between the sheer force of their shoving and her attempt to keep covered. Some scholars believe she was fully nude in front of the men and the Savior. In that case, she’d have been trying to cover herself with her hands.

Those feet–they didn’t seem like the feet of any messiah she’d heard about. Dirty, calloused, they showed the wear of many miles of walking those dusty desert roads. These weren’t the manicured feet of a rich man.

Jesus began to write in the dirt with his finger. Many interpretations of this action are out there–that he wrote the verse about adultery in the dirt itself–to remind many of those standing here that technically many of them were guilty of the same offense. Some believe he was writing nonsense, praying to the Father for guidance. Some think he was just stalling–purposely making an awkward moment last–so these men could feel the gravity of their accusations.

I wonder if he wrote her name–reminding her that no matter what, she was loved.

She was treasured. She was his.

We know what came next–Jesus flipped the question. “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Some interpretations say that the word used actually means “without THIS sin,” meaning, “Those of you haven’t done the same thing–y’all can go first.”

Soon, as always, it was just the two of them. I like the think of the story in her place, coming from her thougths.

“And your accusers? Where are they? Who is left to condemn you?” He asked me, his eyes gentle, compelling. His hands, still dusty…I could not take my eyes from them. It was something about his wrists.
“No one, my Lord,” I said, my voice hardly a whisper.

“Then I’ll not condemn you either. But go–and sin no more.”

Jesus wasn’t offering her a free pass, but what he was offering her was unconditional love and forgiveness.

Who of us is without sin? Then let’s go ahead and put those stones away and remember to love one another. We are all just one stone away from judgement.

One thought on “Women of the Bible: Caught in Adultery

  1. Great viewpoint of this Jesus story. Many women who get caught up in inappropriate relationships will stop at the part of the story where the crowd wants to stone them. The feeling of betrayal by their partner can be a real thing too and just adds to the self-condemnation.
    I had always read this as who among us is without sin, but I like how you even made it specific. Who among us has not committed this exact sin, maybe not carried it out physically but considered it….entertained the thought even for a bit longer than we are comfortable to admit later.
    Unconditional love and forgiveness, that’s what Jesus offered her and all of us caught in any sin. Not a free pass, but love and forgiveness at a time when that is exactly what we need.


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