Short Meditations in John 8: 10. And so?
Jn 8:10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
All the while, as the antagonists, one by one acknowledge the truth and slip away, Jesus appears to keep doodling in the dust. Easy to miss this, but don’t. He is not glaring at them to rub in their guilt; it is almost as if he pretends nothing is happening. It has gone quiet, no one has replied and said anything. The Pharisees have quietly slipped away, and the hushed onlooking crowd wait with anticipation, and Jesus appears oblivious of all that is going on before him – but he’s not, he knows exactly what is happening.
But here’s the amazing thing: he does not capitalize upon it, he does not jeer at their retreating backs as we might be tempted to do, he does not turn to the crowd and make a point that scores off the discomfort of the retreating religious remnant. No, Jesus leaves them to quietly go away and ponder on what has happened. No doubt some would have gone in great fury at having been shown up yet again by this young preacher from the north, but hopefully some of them at least might have the grace to face the truth of what has just happened: they had used a woman as an act of attack on Jesus, seeking to put themselves in a place of moral superiority to score points off Jesus, but instead had been forced to publicly acknowledge a universal truth – we are all less than perfect and that means none of us can hurl stones of condemnation on others. Yes, they are sinners – but so are we. Hopefully all that had sunk in.
It is only when the last ones have gone that Jesus looks up from his doodling in the dust and looks around. He’s not bothered with the religious attackers, he doesn’t call after them, and for the moment he ignores the crowd. There is only one person who needs his attention at this moment, the woman. She has been through a most grueling time, shamed and disgraced, presumably caught in the act, hauled before the authorities, condemned and sentenced and then, to make it even worse, dragged out into the temple precincts where the crowd had gathered with Jesus, and made a public spectacle.
Jesus leaves nothing unclear; he makes the point: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” It is time she is given a voice. He wants to speak with her but he always wants a two-way conversation. That way he knows we are listening, we are taking in the reality of what is going on. Again, as we see so often in Scripture, Jesus (and God) doesn’t ask questions because he needs to know the answer but that we might face the truth of the situation and speak it out. We’re the ones who need to face the answers.