This article on John 8:7 discusses whether or not Jesus' teaching contradicts Mosaic law.

Source: Clarion, 2001. 2 pages.

John 8:7 - Jesus Confronts Moses

If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

John 8:7

Some passages in the Bible have been misinterpreted so often and for so long that the message lies buried. In this passage we read about a woman caught by the Jewish leaders committing adultery. They brought her to Jesus for judgment. It is commonly seen as a story that brings the harshness of Mosaic law into conflict with the era of mercy and forgiveness ushered in by Jesus Christ.

Now it is true that here love triumphed over judgment. But there was no conflict between Jesus and Moses. Jesus honoured the law. Moreover, Jesus was not the image of warmth and love here, for when the Pharisees brought the woman to Him, his first reaction was to bend down and scribble in the sand, as though to ignore the whole thing. He came not to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). He bent down to write in the sand as though to say to the religious leaders: It is not my business. Apply the law yourselves. You sit on Moses’ chair to enforce the law so you enforce it.

But they kept pressing Him for his judgment. So Jesus stood up and rendered his judgment: Stone her. Yes, she has committed adultery so put her to death. The law is clear:

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.Leviticus 20:10

Jesus did not dispute the judgment of Mosaic law.

However, Jesus wanted to draw attention to the person who carried out this judgment. He had once taught, "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Mark 4:24.

Let the person who begins the execution of this woman be careful lest he bring the same punishment down on himself. This is what was new in Jesus’ teaching.

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The Word of God has the power to cut through to the very core of a person’s heart. That happened here. Suddenly, each man there felt exposed because Jesus’ words had uncovered the leering, sexual, and lusting thoughts that had touched their hearts in connection to this woman. Each man there knew that if truth be told, he would have to stand beside the woman and be stoned with her. So they began to leave, one by one, the older ones first until only Jesus and the woman were left.

Now what? Moses had said that she should be killed! Jesus agreed for He gave his approval to the verdict. Jesus should then have begun to carry out the sentence. He should have taken stones and thrown them at her until she was dead. But Jesus did not come to condemn sinners. Instead, He would save her. He would do what all those cowards were afraid to do. They were afraid to face the consequence of their own sin, so they quietly left, one by one. Rather than punish her for her sins, Jesus was willing to accept the consequences of her sin. In effect, He not only chose to take the woman’s place at the centre of the execution ring, but He would also suffer the punishment which the law demanded should fall on her. No, He would not be stoned to death; He would die in a more horrible way: He would be crucified.

Jesus is not against Moses. They agree. When we see that agreement, the immensity of God’s love opens up for us in this passage. The law of Moses puts us all in the centre of the ring of execution, but Jesus has taken our place and suffered God’s wrath fully.

There is only one thing that Jesus requires of us: If you would escape the punishment, then you must turn away from the sin which leads to such punishment. Turning to the woman, Jesus said, "neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin."

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