8:1 But Jesus [following the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles: John 7] went to the Mount of Olives [where He often retreated].
8:2 At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts [see Luke 21:37], where all the people gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them.
8:3 The teachers [scribes: experts in the law] of the law and the Pharisees [concerned about the (ultrastrict) interpretation and application of the law] brought [coldheartedly] in [interrupted Jesus as He taught in the temple courts] a woman [but not the man!] caught [seized] in adultery [prohibited in Ex. 20:14]. They made her stand before the group [a humiliating place]
Note: The religious leaders seemed concerned about the broken law, the sinful woman, and the popular teacher. Rank these in order of the leaders’ primary concern.
8:4 and said to Jesus “Teacher, this woman [again, note the absence of the man or any mention of the man] was caught in the act of adultery.
Note: In what ways are we like the religious leaders when interacting with those who have failed morally?
8:5 In the Law Moses commanded us [see Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22-24] to stone such women [and men]. Now what do you say?
8:6 They were using this question [and woman] as a trap [true motive of religious leaders], in order to have a basis for [the religious leaders callously used the woman as an object to help them trap Jesus; they demonstrated no concern for her worth as a person] accusing Him [an offer of forgiveness would result in an accusation of breaking the Mosaic Law and pressing the Mosaic Law would be viewed as a violation of Roman law concerning who could administer capital punishment]. But Jesus bent down and started to write [the only biblical reference to Jesus writing anything] on the ground with His finger.
Note: Do we look at people who have failed morally as merely objects who have committed a terrible sin and therefore should be rejected, or as people whom God created and loves?
8:7 When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin [perhaps some of the woman’s accusers were guilty of having committed the same sin, if not with the body perhaps in the heart as per Matt. 5:27-30], let him [the first to accuse as per Deut. 17:7] be the first [to begin the execution] to throw a stone at her.”
Note: The religious leaders “kept on questioning” Jesus. In what ways do people today respond when they hear of someone’s moral failure?
8:8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground [giving the woman’s accusers time to reflect on their own lives].
8:9 At this, those who heard [and could not argue with the convicting challenge of Jesus; convicted by their own consciences] began to go away one at a time [they had applied the Law to the woman but not to themselves], the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Note: For what reasons should we not be judgmental toward those who do wrong? How can recognizing our own sinfulness help us avoid passing judgment on or condemning others (see Matt. 7:1-5)?
8:10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman [not “adulteress” or “sinful woman”], where are they? Has no one condemned [pronounced you guilty and passed sentence on] you?”
Note: What should we do, and not do, when ministering to those who have been caught in some sin?
8:11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I [sinless Jesus] condemn you [Jesus, as Judge, threw the case out of court],” Jesus [not condemning the woman nor condoning her sin] declared. “Go now and [because forgiveness comes with responsibility] leave [turn from] your life of sin [while we cannot go back and have a new start, we can start now and have a new ending].”
8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people [refer back to Jn. 7:52; Jn. 7–8 record dialogue between Jesus and religious leaders in Jerusalem during Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Jn. 7:14,37); bright lampstands burned in the Court of the Women (a reminder of the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night; cf. Ex. 13:21], he said, “I am [Jesus was identifying Himself with the covenant God of the OT; cf. Ex. 3:14] the [not “a” or “another” but rather “the one and only” true light] light [light enables people to see what they otherwise would be unable to see; dispels spiritual darkness; illumines the truth; a symbol of the holiness of God (cf. 1 Jn. 1:5)] of the world [all people, not just the Jews; cf. Isa. 49:6]. Whoever follows me will never [a strong negative assertion] walk in darkness [spiritual darkness, alienation, and separation from God], but will have the light of life.”
8:30 Even as he spoke [in the temple courtyard during the Feast of Tabernacles], many put their faith in him [to believe something to be true; verses that follow indicate these individuals did not make a genuine commitment to follow Jesus; cf. Jas. 2:19].
8:31 To the Jews who had believed him [those who only had accepted His words as being true], Jesus said, “If you hold to [“to continue in, to be at home with, to abide in”; to live according to Jesus’ teaching] my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Note: Why is it important to count the cost of following Jesus? Read Luke 14:25-35.
8:32 Then you will know [accept; obey] the truth [the truth of the gospel message; the truth about Jesus; cf. Jn. 14:6], and the truth [not a reference to academic learning; personal discovery of who Jesus is and commitment to Him as Lord and Savior] will set you free […from spiritual tyranny].”
8:33 They answered him [note that they did not consider themselves in bondage…], “We are Abraham’s [founder of the Jewish nation] descendants and have never been slaves of anyone [they failed to mention that they had been slaves of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians, and that they were under Roman domination in their own day]. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Note: Those who answered Jesus mistakenly thought that Abraham’s righteousness guaranteed their righteousness. We must remember that God has no grandchildren. Someone humorously, yet wisely, noted that being born in a Christian home does not make you a Christian anymore than being born in the back seat of a car makes you a spare tire.
8:34 Jesus replied [Jesus explained that He was not referring to political or social slavery, but to a bondage worse than these], “I tell you the truth [literally “amen, amen”], everyone who sins is a slave to sin [the greatest bondage is internal, not external; cf. Rom. 6:12-23].
8:35 Now a slave [note the uncertain status of slaves in ancient culture…] has no permanent place [slaves had no legal status in the Roman Empire] in the family, but [note different status of a son…] a son belongs to it [family] forever.
8:36 So if the Son [Jesus; a son / heir had the right to free slaves or make a slave a family member] sets you free, you will be free indeed [certain and permanent freedom].
8:37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants [although physical descendants, they bore no spiritual resemblance to Abraham]. Yet you are ready to kill me [they preferred to get rid of Jesus rather than get rid of their sins], because you have no room for my word [His teachings; Jesus’ words exposed their sins].
Note: What crowds out the Word from people’s lives today?
8:38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you [those who had rejected Jesus’ truth] do what you have heard from your father.”
8:39 “Abraham is our father, [this was physically but not spiritually or morally true]” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did.
8:40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things [Abraham welcomed God’s messengers (Gen. 18:1-8)].
8:41 You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
8:42 Jesus said to them, “If [Jesus did not believe this was true] God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God [refers to Jesus’ divinity] and now am here [among God’s chosen people]. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.
8:43 Why is my language not clear to you [after all, Jesus was not speaking a foreign language]? Because you are unable to hear [accepting and obeying what Jesus taught; cf. 1 Cor. 2:12-14] what I say.
Note: Why do we sometimes fail to understand or accept what others are saying?
8:44 You belong to your father [used in the ethical sense], the devil [Gr. “diabolos” means “slanderer”], and you want to carry out your father’s desire [this word often translated “lust”]. He was a murderer [the devil was the instigator Jesus’ murder (cf. Jn. 6:70-71; 13:27)] from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Note: How does Satan use people to obstruct God’s work?
8:45 Yet because I [in contrast to the devil] tell the truth, you do not believe me!
8:46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? [silence; even Jesus’ enemies could find nothing wrong with Him] If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?
8:47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear [or obey] is that you do not belong to God.”