Jesus and the Naked Woman (John 8:1-11)

In Ironman, the bible study I attend on Thursday mornings, the speaker talked about being an example to your kids, or to other guys, in keeping yourself from lusting. He used John 8:1-11 as an example of Jesus showing those around Him what to do:

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 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. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

I had heard this story so many times, either as an example of Jesus' forgiveness and the woman's repentance, or the inequality of treatment between the man and the woman (where was the man?), or a diatribe against our judgement. I'd also heard speculation on what Jesus was writing in the ground, everything from profound teachings to squiggly lines and doodles.

However, I'd never considered the significance of the mere act of looking down and writing on the ground. Jesus was presented with a woman caught in the act of adultery. You don't do the act of adultery with clothes on. This woman was most likely naked. The Pharisees and teachers of the law had brought a naked woman in the midst of all the people. Men, women, children... all. They, of course, probably went to the middle of the group in order to gain access to Jesus and keep their view of this naked woman.

Jesus, confronted with a naked woman, sets the example by bouncing His eyes away from her, and occupying Himself with writing on the ground. It obviously affected His disciples, since John remembered exactly what He was doing 40 or 50 years later (John was the last gospel to be written and/or compiled). He was setting an example that probably convicted those around Him, so that they knew exactly what sin He was talking about when He told them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." The old men, whose eyes had probably been fixed on the naked woman in front of them, knew immediately that they had been figured out. The young ones took a little longer to get it, or perhaps took their cue from the elders to leave the situation.

Was Jesus lusting? Well, no, because He was able to speak to the woman after her condemners had left. It wasn't for His benefit that He was bouncing his eyes from her... it was for the benefit of His imperfect disciples, those twelve young men who were learning to walk in His footsteps.

I think we can take two lessons from this aspect of the story. The first, of course, is to keep your eyes off of naked women. The second lesson is that we need to be setting an example for those following us (children, younger men). This second lesson is important, because as Jesus showed, it's not just about what we can handle or not feel convicted about. We should do whatever we can to show righteousness, striving so that those around us will be challenged.

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