Studies in the Gospel of John
Lesson 22 “Exposure to the Light”
The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth not only to redeem man, but to reveal God to man. And He often did that by using commonplace things like bread, light, and water to symbolize Himself. The late J. Vernon McGee said “He used the ordinary to speak of the extraordinary, the physical to speak of the spiritual, the temporal to speak of the eternal, the here and now to speak of the hereafter, the earthly to speak of the heavenly, the limited to speak of the unlimited, and the infinite to speak of the infinite.”
In various places John records Jesus speaking of himself as “bread,” in John 6:35, “light,” in John 8:12, “the door” in John 10:9, “the good shepherd” in 10:11, “the resurrection and the life” in 11:25, and “the vine” in John 15:5. And in this passage we come to the place where He speaks of Himself as “light” to help us understand the nature of God. And that term, which He doesn’t use until verse 12, actually forms the basis for the outline of the chapter.
In verses 1 through 11 we find the Exposure to the Light. Then in verses 12 through 20 there is the Explanation of the light and in verses 21 through 29 a closer Examination of the light; in verses 30 through 47 there is the Extension of the light to all who would accept it, And finally, in verses 48 through 59 the Exit of the light (but not the extinguishing of the light).
So let’s begin our study of the chapter by looking at the exposure to the light that is demonstrated in verses 1 through 11. The first thing we see is the setting in which the light was first shone in verses 1 through 6a. A part of that setting was the congregation in verses 1 and 2
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (2) Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.
Remember that in the previous chapter the Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated, and Jesus had done some significant teaching there. But now the Feast is over, but people were still interested enough in what He had to say that some of them were willing to get up early to hear Him do more teaching (and some from other towns may have stayed over as well) And so Jesus was gracious enough to sit down and teach those who were willing hearers. But in the midst of that teaching He was interrupted by a great commotion in verse 3
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst . . .”
The sense of this verse is that is of these men roughly interrupting Jesus’ teaching and dragging a struggling woman into the room. It is interesting that these religious leaders were apparently willing to get up early to put on this display. There is nothing of politeness or decorum or dignity – just selfishly demanding Jesus’ attention. The charge that they make is in verse 4:
They said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
It strains our imagination to believe that these supposedly godly men would get up early in the morning and apparently become “sexual predators” and stage a home invasion – serious crimes even in our jaded society – just to harass Jesus and put Him on the spot – to say nothing of the poor woman! It shows their growing fear of losing their place of power and prestige. And by the way, where was the man who would have been involved in this situation? Why didn’t they bring him in for punishment? (male chauvinism is not as new as we thought.)
Well, in verses 5 and 6a we find out what their real concern was:
Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?” (6) this they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.
We might have figured it out without John telling us, but verse 6 makes it clear where their concern really lay. Their concern was not really for this woman, who may have been a prostitute – or just may have been duped by some smooth talking male – in any case, she had a real problem. Their concern was not for the upholding of the law of Moses – even though they quote from it (otherwise they would have brought the man too) Their real concern was simply to get Jesus in a trap. And by the way, what is your concern in using the Bible? To “look good” to others around you? To get God to smile on you?) There is no doubt that she was guilty – Jesus refers to it down in verse 11. And the Law of Moses called for stoning in such a situation (for both the man and the woman) in Leviticus 20:10. Would He contradict the law of Moses or would He give some new teaching that they could entangle Him in, or what?
Well, in verses 6 through 9 we see Jesus shining the light of His wisdom into this contorted situation:
“ . . . . but Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear (7) So when they continued asking Him, He raised himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you throw a stone at her. (8) And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. (9) Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one beginning with the oldest, even down to the last, And Jesus was left alone, and the woman in the midst.
First Jesus just seems to ignore them. He stoops down and writes something in the dust of the floor “as though He did not hear” – verse 6. But they were asking for it – without realizing what they were about to get in verse 7a. Finally, He gives the famous saying about casting the first stone. Then He stoops down and begins to write again. Of course the age old question is, “what did He write? (Incidentally, this is the only record that He ever wrote anything, even though He is considered one of the greatest teachers of all time) And what He did write was wiped out within a few minutes by people walking across it. But it doesn’t matter, because what He did was more important than anything that He taught or wrote.
There is one little clue to what He might have written. Jeremiah 17:13 says,
O Lord, the hope of all Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed and they that depart from thee shall be written in the earth because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.”
Now who had forsaken the Lord here? The woman? Yes
The scribes and Pharisees? Yes,
In fact, everybody in the room except Jesus.
And Jesus was literally “writing in the earth here.”
So He may have been writing the names of other people with whom they had sinned – drinking buddies, girlfriends, recipients of bribes, etc. But whatever He wrote, it convicted their conscience according to verse 9. He shined the light of His omniscience right into their souls. In the last line of verse 7, Jesus gives the qualification for passing judgment on another person: “He who is without sin.” There are many differences between all of us. But one thing that we all have in common is sin. Your sin may be different from mine and mine may be different than someone else’s, but we are all sinners in need of a Savior. So who are we to judge someone else for their sin? Help each other when we fall into sin? Yes. Confront each other when we sin against each other? Yes. But condemn and judge one another? Never!
And if that qualification for judging was true even in Old Testament days in which Jesus lived, how much more true is it in this age of grace? What does light do? It exposes things that are harmful to us, it shows us the right path to take – in short, it gives safety doesn’t it? And that is what we see in verses 10 and 11.
When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “woman where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? (11) She said, No one Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
This woman was guilty of a sin for which the Old Testament prescribed the death penalty! Was Jesus nullifying the law? No, He was forgiving her sin. Back in chapter 3 He told Nicodemus that He did not come into the world to condemn the world. He did not come to condemn this woman. He came into the world to be her Savior.
Many people think that they are lost because they have committed one specific sin or another. But I have news for you: people are not lost because they have committed a specific sin (one or a dozen or a thousand.) – they are lost because we are all sinners. But Jesus Christ saves sinners. He is the savior. He died for the sins of the whole world. Any person who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith will be forgiven.
The purpose of these studies is to help people come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Romans 3:23 says that “All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “And Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” And John 3:16 says that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. If you have never sincerely asked Him to forgive your sins and give you eternal life He will readily do so. Having trusted Him as your savior it is my hope that the lessons will help you grow in grace and bring others to know Him as well. If you would like more information you may contact me at “firstname.lastname@example.org