A Peeping Tom Story?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1Chron 19-21; John 8:1-27

The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” They said this to test him because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.

They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”

11 She said, “No one, sir.”

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore” (John 8:3-11, Common English Bible).

I never thought about it before tonight. How did the Pharisees and legal experts actually catch the woman caught in the act of adultery? Unless her husband caught her, this story gets pretty creepy in a big hurry.

It is evident that the Pharisees and legal experts were out looking for just this kind of situation. Much like when they asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor back in Matthew’s Gospel, they wanted to trap Jesus.

If Jesus said, “Yes, go ahead, she sinned a sin that calls for punishment by death. Go ahead, stone her.” They can claim Jesus to be a hypocrite. He says love, mercy, and grace are most important but where are all those things now? Would this woman not deserve the things Jesus promised?

On the other hand, if he says, “No, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Let her live.” Now he isn’t being a good Jew because he is not following the law of Moses. Once again the Pharisees think they have him right where they want him.

In a lot of ways, the Pharisees are a lot like Wyllie Coyote of Saturday morning Bugs Bunny cartoon fame. He always thinks he has the Roadrunner right where he wants him and then something happens and his plan backfires and he ends up falling into his own trap. Undeterred, the coyote goes right back to work on the next plan that will allow him to catch the Roadrunner.

Though far-less funny (our kids have no idea what they are missing by not seeing real Saturday morning cartoons) the Pharisees keep trying to trap Jesus. They also, like Wyllie Coyote, continue to fail at every turn.

Jesus stoops down and begins to write in the sand. No one really knows what he wrote except him and the Pharisees and the legal experts. That has never stopped Bible scholars and commentators from speculating. Some say Jesus started writing their sins in the sand. After writing a few, he says let he who is without sin cast the first stone and then resumes writing their sins in the sand. One by one, the crowd leaves until only he and the woman remain.

The other popular explanation among scholars and commentators is that he wrote, “Where is the man.” A person cannot commit adultery alone. It takes two. And yes, they brought someone to Jesus who had committed a sin so great, it called for one of the worst deaths the human creature has ever devised. That being said, the man had committed the same sin. He would deserve the same punishment. Where was he?

But, as I was reading this story, I started to think, how did they know? Were they out there violating the woman’s constitutional rights protecting her from an illegal search? Of course, I jest but still, short of going into the house searching for the problem, or peeping in the windows (either would be creepy), how would they know? So, perhaps he wrote, “How do you know?” Or maybe, even better, he wrote, “What were you doing in her bedroom?”

Make no mistake, the woman did sin. Jesus never denies that, and, in fact, he actually says as much when he says to her, “Go and sin no more.” Her sin did not excuse the man involved from his sin, nor did it excuse the Pharisees and legal experts from the sins of their hearts.

This story, at least to me, is first and foremost a story about hypocrisy. I find it interesting that the Pharisees were trying for the possibility of calling Jesus a hypocrite only to be called out for the very same thing when their plan falls apart.

I am reminded of the old saying, “Be careful when you are pointing at someone else as there are three fingers pointing back on you.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

One thought on “A Peeping Tom Story?

  1. Keith,
    I think the first time I learned about this story, I must have been in Jr High and had the best Sunday School teacher of my life. I wish I could remember the discussion, did we wonder what Jesus wrote in the sand? Thank you for using this scripture in your blog, it leads me to read it again and make notes about what Jesus could have possibly been writing.

    God’s Blessings for you and Cindy,

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