Jesus was teaching in the temple courts. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman accused of adultery. They said to Jesus, “Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” The question was a trap. Jesus said, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” They began to go away, one at a time. Jesus told the woman he did not condemn her but added “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The Jewish leaders saw Jesus as a threat and were resentful of his popularity. They were looking for an excuse to arrest him, so they tried to trap him with a question – what should be done with the woman who had been caught in adultery? If Jesus said the woman ought to be killed, he could be in trouble with the Roman authorities. On the other hand, he would be criticised by the Jewish leaders if he said the Old Testament law was to be ignored. Jesus did not reply immediately, but wrote in the dust with his finger - a technique often used by Rabbis to explain something to a pupil. John does not record the words.
When Jesus answered the Jewish leaders, he made the following points:
Jesus’ answer had the effect he wanted. The Jewish leaders could not answer back and slowly everyone went away.
Jesus then spoke to the woman and made these points: