“The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery” (John 8:3, 4).
In the Gospels (and in real life) Jesus “leads” a movement towards God…Jesus calls people to be faithful to God: He is a loving Father, who has the good of His people on His heart – “Our Father in heaven…” Whatever God says or does, is for people’s benefit – “the Sabbath was made for men…”
At the same time, there is a growing opposition against Jesus and His movement. The religious leaders, sense that their establishment, with rules, regulations and traditions is threatened. The Jewish leaders have set before themselves the task of killing Jesus (Mark 3:6; John 5:18).
The opposition starts with nods and grumblings, as they hear some of Jesus’ teachings and statements (Luke 6:11). Then it becomes more outspoken – they challenge openly Jesus or His disciples on different theological and practical points. The plan to catch Jesus enters a new phase…an active phase.
There are a number of traps being set up to catch Jesus breaking either the Mosaic Law or the Roman law. And, of course, it all culminates with His arrest, condemnation and crucifixion.
For them, it was a “hunting” game…a theological debate using a human being clearly in the wrong. The woman did not matter – a sinner – a deplorable. They were ready to stone the woman…we can safely presume that some of them have done it before. We can only imagine, to a certain degree, what the woman was thinking…or feeling.
For Jesus the situation was a matter of sadness, anger and joy. It was a matter of life and death…not for Him…for her. There, standing before them all, ashamed and disgraced stood not “a woman caught in adultery”, but a person…a human being…a sinful human being at that. For Jesus, the situation was one of grace and judgement. He showed both.