Note: Your Bible may have a special notation or a set of brackets around John 8:1-11 to indicate that there is a question about whether it should be in the Bible. If you grew up reading and cherishing this passage (like me), you may be shocked that there is a question about its authenticity. Relax. Although this passage is not found in the earliest manuscripts of the gospel of John, the best conservative Bible scholars agree that it is almost certainly based on an oral tradition of a true incident in the life of Jesus. The story rings true and is consistent with what we learn about Jesus from many other (undisputed) passages. Believe it.
As Jesus sat down to teach in the great Temple in Jerusalem, His familiar opponents, the scribes and Pharisees, brought a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery. Since adultery involves two people, the fact that they brought only one reveals that the religious leaders cared nothing about justice. The woman was only a pawn in their ploy to trick and discredit Jesus.
The woman’s heartless accusers coldly applied the law to her sin: she must be stoned to death. When they asked Jesus to weigh in on her judgment, He (strangely) bent down and wrote in the dirt with His finger. We can only guess what He wrote: a list of sins the men had committed? The names of those present who were adulterers? The Ten Commandments? And then came the razor-sharp statement that sent the accusers away: “Let him who is without sin among you throw the first stone at her.”
Jesus announced the woman’s forgiveness and sent her away into a hopeful future with these beautiful, simple words: “I don’t condemn you either. Go and sin no more.” What amazing grace! Jesus did not condone or ignore her sin — but He forgave her sin! Thank you, Lord, for loving me in spite of my guilt and shame. Thank you for hating my sin but loving this sinner!
I want to summarize the remaining four dozen verses in this chapter by commenting briefly on six “I am” statements of Jesus:
“I am the light of the world.” (v.12) Jesus came into a world that was darkened by sin to shine the light of eternal life. This statement echoes the truth of John 1:4-5, “His life is the light of men.”
“I am the one who bears witness about Myself.” (v.18) Jesus came to reveal His identity as the Son of God, Savior of the world, and Lord of all. When we witness about Him we are following His example.
“I am going away.” (v.21) Jesus came to die on the cross and then return to His Father in heaven. We can only follow Him there if we receive Him as Lord and Savior.
“I am from above.” (v.23) Jesus came down from heaven, sent by His Father to save lost sinners. The sad news of the gospel is that if you don’t believe that, “you will die in your sins” (v.24).
“I am He.” (v.28) Jesus is the Son of Man — the one who came to seek and save the lost. That would be proven through the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
“Before Abraham was, I am.” (v.58) With that simple assertion Jesus claimed to be God, the great I AM who made a covenant with Abraham and made him a great nation. I am nothing, but I met the great I AM — and He made me something!