Two men were walking in the forest when a giant grizzly bear lumbered out into their path. Terrified, one man said to the other, “Do you think we can outrun the bear?” The other man whispered back, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!”
God doesn’t judge mankind by comparing one man’s sin to another. He doesn’t say, “Son, your sin isn’t quite as bad as the other man’s sin, so you are more acceptable to me.” There aren’t grades of sin; bad, worse, worser and worst. Some sins aren’t blacker than others. Sin is sin, and the wages of all sin is death (Romans 6:23) and separation from a Holy God (Isaiah 59:2).
It must have comforted the scribes and the Pharisees to believe that their sin wasn’t nearly as bad as others. They must have found solace in believing that the woman caught in the act of adultery was more wretched. They couldn’t see the sinfulness of their pride, self-satisfaction, and self-righteousness. “Sin? Not me?” They certainly didn’t recognize the sinfulness of their conspiracy to entrap Jesus!
Here's what happened. The religious elite, in order to catch the compassionate Jesus in a trap, brought an adulteress to Jesus. You can imagine that when the religious mob broke into the bedroom and threw back the sheets, they didn’t give the woman time to properly dress. They drug her, less than half-dressed, into the temple courtyard where Jesus was teaching.
Hold on! Where was the man? It takes two! So, where was the man? Well, he was probably a buddy of one of the Pharisees, and the whole thing was a setup… probably… maybe…
The Pharisees knew, as did Jesus, that the law was clear. “If a man commits adultery with a married woman—if he commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10).
So, the angry mob of religious zealots dragged the woman before Jesus, “making her stand in the center. ‘Teacher,’ they said to him, ‘this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?’ ” (John 8:3-5).
If Jesus said, “stone her,” they would accuse him of being hard-hearted. If Jesus said, “Let her go,” they would accuse him of breaking the law. Jesus did neither. Rather, he stooped down and wrote in the sand and said, “the one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7) and then continued to write in the sand. One by one, the accusers disappeared into the crowd, until all had departed. Jesus was the only man in the crowd that qualified to cast a stone, and He didn’t.
Jesus asked, “Where are they? Who is left to accuse you?” She replied, “No one, Lord” (John 8:11). Notice, she called him, Lord!
The Lord Jesus didn’t condemn her (Romans 8:1) and he didn’t excuse her sin, but He spoke compassionately, “Go and sin no more!” (John 8:11, NKJV).