John 8 has a story about the teachers of the law and Pharisees bringing to Jesus a woman “caught in the very act of adultery.” According to John (or, considering that this story was likely not part of John’s original text, another early disciple who passed on the tradition), these guys weren’t out either to help the woman or to punish the woman for her adultery. Their motivation, according to the text, was to “trap Jesus.”
Bringing the woman to Jesus, they said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Moses says we should stone people who do this. What do you say?” Their thought was probably something like, “We are putting Jesus in a no-win situation here. He has two options. He can say, ‘Do what Moses said and stone her.’ In that case, the crowd will no longer take him for the compassionate teacher they think he is. They’ll know he’s no different from us. Or, sappy fellow that he is, he could say, ‘Moses was pretty hard-hearted. God is loving and kind. Let’s forgive her and let her go. After all, we’re not supposed to judge.”
Jesus, however, didn’t follow their script. After taking a bit of time (which annoyed them), he said, “Let the one of you who was without sin cast the first stone.”
“But Jesus! That wasn’t one of the options we gave you! Grrrr.” I doubt they heard Jesus willingly, but they knew he’d beaten them. The text says they started to go away, from the oldest to the youngest, until no one was left standing before Jesus other than the woman. Jesus then asked her, “Woman, does no one condemn you?” “No one, Lord.” “Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin.”
We know nothing more about this woman. We don’t know her name or where she was from. We don’t know what her life was like before or after this event. If we can take her accusers at their word, all we know was that she committed adultery, though how she could be caught “in the very act” with no man to also be stoned has mystified many. Chances are, though, that she had no intention of coming to Jesus. Whether content with her life or not – and, with the adultery, probably not – she likely would never have come to him, certainly never had a word of forgiveness given to her personally, if these guys had not caught her in her sin, and, intending to destroy her, brought her the best gift, a date with Jesus.
Sometimes we bring people to Jesus without intending to do so. Hopefully our intentions are not merely to use people, like these guys. Well, maybe we intend to use them, but we don’t wish them dead by our hands. Just used; only slightly taken advantage of. But, through no intent of our own, we bring them to Jesus where they can receive good news.
Perhaps these men with twisted hearts, who sought to use a woman to destroy Jesus, could also hear the good news from Jesus. Jesus’ words to them turned them from their evil plans and saved them from having the woman’s blood on their hands. We always remember that Jesus had mercy on her; Jesus also had mercy on he would-be executioners.