THE DILEMMA, AND JESUS' RESPONSE TO IT
copy from http://www.womeninthebible.net/
The scribes and Pharisees approach Jesus and present the dilemma. The woman is undoubtedly guilty of adultery, and according to the Law of Moses she should be punished by death. But this cannot be done, since the Roman overlords have stripped Jewish leaders of the power to execute a criminal. What is to be done? Jesus recognizes immediately that it is a set-up. He knows that if he pronounces the sentence of death on the woman, he is flouting Roman law. If he lets her off, he is flouting the Law of Moses. What is he to do? Instead of answering, Jesus does something unexpected - always a good ploy. He bends down and writes with his finger on the stone paving of the courtyard. What is he writing? Nobody knows. There have been many erudite theories on the subject, many clever suggestions, but no real answer. The point is that he uses the time it took to write, and the act of writing, to unnerve his adversaries - and possibly to give himself time to think of a response, or calm his anger. Remember that he was man as well as God, with all a normal human being's doubts and uncertainties. Many people doodle when they are upset or deep in thought - perhaps he was one of them. He may also have been trying to avoid confrontation by pretending to ignore it, another common human ploy. But the questioners are not to be put off. They keep on demanding an answer, until Jesus straightens up and faces them. Then he says the direct, devastating words that have shaped so much of Christian thinking: 'Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone. ‘Then he bends down again and resumes tracing with his finger on the ground. The authority of his words and presence obviously affects them. They are silenced at last. One by one, beginning with the most respected man among them, they melt away into the gathering crowd. Eventually, Jesus is left alone with the woman still standing in front of him. He straightens up again, and speaks to her. 'Where are your accusers?' he asks. 'Has no-one seen fit to condemn you?' She simply answers 'No-one, sir.' 'Then I do not condemn you either' says Jesus. 'Go on your way, and do not sin anymore.'Jesus does not condone what she had done, or dismiss her sin as unimportant, or understandable. He knows, and she does too, that what she has done is wrong. But he condemns the sin, not the sinner, and commands her not to sin again. The woman is called to change, but the message is aimed directly at each one of us.