Stone a woman for adultery?
- 8:1 Jesus went back to the Mount of Olives.1
- 8:2 Early the next morning he returned to the Temple. A crowd of people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
- 8:3 Jewish leaders known as scribes along with some Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught committing adultery. They made this woman stand beside them.
- 8:4 They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman got caught in the act of adultery.
- 8:5 Moses said we should stone to death a woman like this. That’s what is written into the law he gave us. What do you say we should do?”
- 8:6 These men were setting a trap for Jesus, hunting for a reason to accuse him of something. Jesus bent down and with his finger he started writing something on the ground.
- 8:7 The men continued to press Jesus for an answer. He stood up and said, “Let the man in your group who hasn’t committed a sin throw the first stone.”
- 8:8 Again, Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground.
- 8:9 One by one, those men left, starting with the oldest first. Soon, the woman was standing in front of Jesus all by herself.
- 8:10 Jesus stood up and said to the woman, “Where did all those guys go? Didn’t anyone stay to condemn you?”
- 8:11 She said, “No one, Sir.” Jesus said, “I’m not going to condemn you, either. Go on your way and don’t do this anymore. In fact, stop sinning altogether.”
Jesus lets his light shine
- 8:12 Jesus turned to the people again and said, “I am the light in this world. 2 Anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness, but in light that leads to life.”3
- 8:13 The Pharisees said to him, “You’re testifying on your own behalf. Your testimony is biased and not admissible.”
- 8:14 Jesus answered them, “So what if I’m testifying on my own behalf? My testimony is valid, nonetheless. I know where I came from, and I know where I’m going. You, however, don’t. You don’t know where I came from. You don’t know where I’m going.
- 8:15 You judge people based on human expectations. I’m not here to judge anyone.
- 8:16 But if I did judge, you could trust my judgment because I wouldn’t be passing judgment on my own. I would be passing judgment in concert with the Father who sent me here.
- 8:17 Your own law says that the testimony of two men can settle a case conclusively.
- 8:18 Well, I’m one testifying on my own behalf. And the Father who sent me makes two. He testifies on my behalf as well.
- 8:19 So the men asked Jesus, “Where is your Father?” Jesus said, “You don’t know him. You don’t know either of us. If you knew me, you would know my Father.”
- 8:20 Jesus was standing near the Temple treasury when he said this. No one arrested him, though, because his time was not yet up.
Jesus: “You will die sinners”
- 8:21 Once again he told the Pharisees, “I’m going to leave. You’ll look for me, but you’re going to die sinners. I’m going where you can’t go.”
- 8:22 The puzzled Jews said, “He’s not going to kill himself, is he? Is that what he means when he said, ‘I’m going where you can’t go’?”
- 8:23 Jesus told them, “Here’s the way it is. You come from below. I come from above. You belong to this world. I don’t.
- 8:24 That’s why I have told you that you’re going to die sinners. If you don’t believe that I am who I say I am, you’ll die sinners.”
- 8:25 They said to him, “Who on earth do you think you are?” Jesus told them, “I am who I have been telling you I am from the beginning.
- 8:26 I’d have plenty to say about you—there’s plenty to condemn. But I’m not here for that. I’m here on behalf of the one who sent me. He’s truthful. So, I’m going to say only what he has told me to say.”
- 8:27 They didn’t realize he was talking to them about God the Father.
- 8:28 Jesus said, “When you lift the Son of Humans off the ground, that’s when you’ll know that I am who I say I am. I’m not doing anything on my own. When I talk to you, I’m saying only what the Father has taught me.
- 8:29 The Father who sent me is with me right now. He has never left me alone. I always do what he wants me to do.”
If you sin, you’re sin’s slave
- 8:30 A lot of people started to believe in Jesus while he was teaching them.
- 8:31 Jesus turned to the Jews who had started trusting in him. He told them, “If you keep on listening to the words I speak, you’re my true disciples.
- 8:32 You’re going to discover the truth, and the truth is going to set you free.”
- 8:33 They said, “What do you mean we’re going to get freed? We are the descendants of Abraham. We have never been slaves to anyone.”
- 8:34 Jesus said, “I’m going to tell you the truest truth.4 And it’s serious business. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
- 8:35 A household slave isn’t part of that household, no matter how long he lives. But a son is.
- 8:36 If the Son of that household sets you free, you are free. Period. There’s no doubt about it.
- 8:37 You don’t need to tell me that you’re descendants of Abraham. I know that. I also know that some of you want to kill me. You want me dead because you object to what I’ve been teaching.
These Jews aren’t Abraham’s kids
- 8:38 When I talk to you, I’m speaking about things I have seen when I’ve been with my Father. You know, on the other hand, live your life according to what you’ve heard from your father.”
- 8:39 They said, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus answered, “If you were Abraham’s kids, you would act like it.
- 8:40 Instead, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you nothing but the truth, which I heard from God himself. Abraham wouldn’t do something like that.
- 8:41 You’re acting like your true father.”5 They said, “Hey, we aren’t illegitimate kids born out of wedlock. We know who our one and only Father is. He’s God.”
- 8:42 Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you wouldn’t be trying to kill me. You would love me. That’s because I came here from God himself. I didn’t come on my own. He sent me here.
- 8:43 Why don’t you understand what I’m saying to you? Is it that hard to understand?
- 8:44 I’ll tell you who your father is. Your father is the devil. And you do the devil’s work. You do what he tells you to do. He was a murderer from the very beginning. And he never could handle the truth. There’s not a drop of truth in him. When he lies, he’s doing only what comes natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of lies.
- 8:45 That’s why you don’t believe me when I tell you the truth.
- 8:46 Can any one of you prove that I have sinned? I’m standing here telling you what is obviously the truth, so why don’t you believe me?
- 8:47 People devoted to God listen to the words from God. You don’t listen because you’re not devoted to God.”
- 8:48 The Jews responded, saying, “Would we be correct if we described you as a demon-possessed Samaritan?”6
- 8:49 Jesus said, “I don’t have a demon. I respect my Father, just as you disrespect me.
- 8:50 I’m not looking to honor myself. But I can tell you someone is looking to honor me. And he’s the one who will judge people.
- 8:51 I’m telling you the truest truth. If anyone does what I’m saying, that person will never die.”
- 8:52 The Jews reacted by saying, “Okay, that confirms you’re demon-possessed. Come on, even Abraham died. So did the prophets. Yet you have the nerve to say, ‘If anyone does what I’m saying, that person will never die.’
- 8:53 Surely you’re not saying you’re more important than our father Abraham, are you? He died, just like the prophets did. Who on earth do you think you are?”
- 8:54 Jesus said, “If I sing my own praises, it’s not going to sound like much of a song. But the praise I get comes from my Father, the one you describe by saying, ‘He’s our God.’
- 8:55 You don’t know him. You never have. But I know him. If I said I didn’t know him, I would be as big of a liar as you are. But I do know him, and I do what he tells me to do.
Jesus, older than Abraham
- 8:56 Your ancestor Abraham was overjoyed about what I’ve come here to do. He saw it and was happy about it.
- 8:57 The Jews said, “Yeah right. You’re not even 50 years old, and yet you say you have seen Abraham?”
- 8:58 Jesus said, “I’m telling you the truest truth, before Abraham was, I am.”7
- 8:59 Some Jews picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus managed to hide among the crowd and slip out of the Temple.
The Mount of Olives was on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It’s the ridge of hills next to the ridge of hills on which Jerusalem was built. The Kidron Valley lies between the two ridges.
“I Am” is God’s name. When God told Moses to go to Egypt and free the Jewish people, Moses said the Jews would want to know who gave him the assignment. God told him to tell the people that “I Am” (Exodus 3:14) sent him. In John’s Gospel, Jesus seems to apply that name to himself as well, in seven “I Am” phrases. I Am:
• life-giving bread (6:35)
• the light of the world (8:12)
• the gate for the sheep (10:7)
• the good shepherd (10:14)
• the resurrection (11:25)
• the way, the truth, and the life (14:6)
• the Genuine Grapevine (15:1)
One of the word pictures that Jesus paints with this “light that leads to life” is the pillar of light that led the Exodus Jews out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land of what is now Israel and Palestinian Territories.
See note for 5:19.
By “true father,” Jesus means the devil. He makes that clear in 8:44. Jesus uses sarcasm like this from time to time.
Samaritans and Jews did not generally get along. Their relationship was about as unfriendly as that of Israelis and Palestinians today. For this reason, Jews traveling between Jerusalem and northern territories such as Galilee generally bypassed the Samaritan region in between the two.
Jesus seems to be saying he existed not only before Abraham, but before the beginning of time. “I am” links Jesus to God himself. See footnote for 8:12. Many Jews who heard Jesus link himself to God in this way instantly thought of it as heresy and blasphemy that disrespected God.
Adultery was a capital offense by Jewish law. Death by stoning. Yet by Roman law, Jews couldn’t execute anyone without permission from Romans, who were occupying and ruling the Jewish homeland. What kind of trap do you think Jewish leaders were trying to set for Jesus when they asked him what they should do with a woman they “caught in the act of adultery” (8:4)?
Jesus defended the woman. Instead of passing judgment on her, he indicted her accusers. “Let the man in your group who hasn’t committed a sin throw the first stone” (8:7). Then he sent the woman away by telling her, “I’m not going to condemn you, either. Go on your way and don’t do this anymore. In fact, stop sinning altogether” (8:11). What does this tell you about Jesus?
Jesus had nothing good to say about Jewish scholars of his day. Just the opposite. He told them, “You’re going to die sinners. If you don’t believe that I am who I say I am, you’ll die sinners” (8:24). Jesus told them he wasn’t there to condemn them. But he sort of did condemn them a bit, though not as harshly as he did other times. What do you think Jesus had against these top Jewish scholars?
Do you think Jewish scholars were taking a crack at Jesus when they said, “Hey, we aren’t illegitimate kids born out of wedlock. We know who our one and only Father is. He’s God. (8:41).
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus told the crowd of people around him, “I also know that some of you want to kill me. You want me dead because you object to what I’ve been teaching” (8:37). What do people talk about today that makes other folks angry enough to wish the speaker would drop dead?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus said “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (8:34). Jesus also said, “If the Son…sets you free, you are free. Period” (8:36). In what way does Jesus free us from sin? Jesus or no Jesus, people sin, don’t they?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus told the scholars, “If God were your Father, you wouldn’t be trying to kill me. You would love me” (8:42). What do we expect to see in people who claim to be Christian? What kind of behaviors do we anticipate?