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ADULTEROUS WOMAN: Why Jesus did not condemn her? (Jn 8:1-11).

ADULTEROUS WOMAN: Why Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman brought by Scribes and Pharisees? (Jn 8:1-11).

1. The Law of Moses was binding on both the woman and the man who were involved in the act. However, the Scribes and Pharisees did not even detain the man who had sinned with her. That was an error on the part of the Scribes and the Pharisees contravening Deuteronomy 22:22-24.

2. The Law required two witnesses to pronounce capital punishment (Deut 17:6; 19:15). The Scribes and the Pharisees did not present the witnesses. Jesus could guess that they had actually caught the woman in order to have him caught in a test to his integrity, the poor woman becoming a martyr in the process. For his part, he did not want the woman to fall prey to the rivalry of his enemies.

3. Jesus declined to favour the opposing policies of the Jewish leaders to assassinate her, and the Roman authorities’ law of not killing the adulterous. He wanted, rather, to expose the sinful nature of the self-righteous leaders and to save the woman’s life and soul.

4. Jesus came not to judge the sinners but to save them (Lk 5:32). His teaching was, “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven” (Lk 6:37). He would judge and condemn sinners only at his Second Coming (Mt 25:31- 46). Jesus’ goal was to save the woman, body and soul, from her sinful state. Jesus told Nicodemus: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:17). As followers of Jesus, we also shall refrain from judging others, but rather, help them save their souls.

5. Jesus felt pity on the woman who was scared to death. She might have been compelled to be an adulterous because of her poverty, or because she was raped by someone, or molested. The woman became a harlot because she had no other choice in terms of making a living. Studies show several compelling situations that make a woman turn to prostitution.
(a) The lady needs money to meet her expenses concerning her necessities and finds no other way to earn it. This can happen for any of many reasons: if the husband dies leaving behind no resources for the wife’s survival; divorce and no one’s support to fall back on, abandoned by all; a victim of rape, abuse or molestation, with no one willing to marry her; or unskilled for any job, and so on. In such cases, she sells her body to survive.
(b) A woman forced into sex work by a poor family, or by others who cheat her by offering a job, irresponsible husbands who sell their wife for material gains, illegal immigrant with no other source of income, sexual slavery by sex rackets.

In such instances, society is more guilty than the woman herself and she could be innocent. Jesus, who knew the inner secrets of the woman caught in adultery, understood her helplessness, and wanted to give her a chance to renew her life.

When Hosea presented Israel’s guilt, he preached, “Therefore your daughters prostitute themselves, and your daughters-in- law commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters for their prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law for their adultery, because the men themselves consort with prostitutes, and with temple women they offer sacrifice! Thus a people without understanding comes to ruin” (Hosea 4:13-14). Almost the same was this woman’s situation, and those who abused her.

6. Jesus wished to hold a mirror to the accusers on how sinful they themselves were while they brazenly attempted to condemn the woman. Instead of correcting their sinful lives, they were seeking to kill the woman without investigating the reality of her situation. In his silence, he expressed what he taught during the Sermon on the Mount: “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5).

7. Jesus felt compassion for the woman who looked scared and apologetic, though she did not confess her repentance in public. He expressed such compassion for people several times. For example, at the sight of the crowd who came in search of him as sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36; 14:14; Mk 6:34), after the people had been listening to Jesus for three days and had nothing to eat (Mt 15:32; Mk 8:2-3), before healing two blind men (Mt 20:34), at the funeral of widow’s son in Nain (Lk 7:13), and at the death of Lazarus (Jn 11:35). How compassionate are we towards others when we witness the pathetic situation of others? At the Last Judgement, the criterion for evaluating the fruits of Christian living on our part will be based on the compassionate action we take in the suffering of the people (Mt 25:31-46).

Instead of directly answering the question of the Scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. The evangelist does not clarify why Jesus did that and what he wrote. Here, Jesus proved that it is the people who led the woman to poverty and immorality that are more guilty than the woman.

How acute is our role in leading others to poverty-based theft or prostitution? The Bible teaches us to share our resources with the poor. So, what can we do to liberate people from the rigors of their pathetic situation?

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