And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the middle,…
Jesus is writing as one in an office, absorbed in some account, might write, not hearing the question another had put to Him. They think He will answer directly, but He continues writing. They continue asking, and press Him for a reply. Possibly they enlarge on the heinousness of the offence — an easy task and a sort of solace for a bad conscience. These men knew that they had committed sin enough, which should have made them charitable, but it did not. Christ is never in a hurry to condemn; hence His silence. Moreover, He had no wish to be judge. "Who made Me a ruler and a judge over you?" They think Jesus is pondering a reply; He has no need, for one is ready. He keeps it back for some time, knowing that silence up to a certain point is more powerful than speech. They ask Him the more vehemently, for the silence now becomes painful. How they wish He would cease that writing and say something! They could bear an open accusation. That could be rebutted with all the force of aggrieved innocence. But to be treated as though unworthy an answer, as though uncharitable in wishing to have the woman condemned, or as though mean in trying to entrap Christ — this is terrible! a taste of Gehenna. They press Him further; and now, rising, He glances first on the accused and then on the accusers. Slowly, quietly, witheringly, He utters a vivid sentence: "He that is without sin," etc. He looks away from law to conscience. Again He stoops and writes. Was it imagination that deceived them? His look was a lightning flash, quickly gone. His voice was as the blare of the judgment trumpet, echoing to the innermost recesses of their souls. They realized now the report of their officers — "Never man spake," etc. — and were almost as overpowered as the armed band in Gethsemane. The power of Christ's words lay in His character. He alone could say, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" He was therefore the only one who had a right to condemn. We have in this a foreshadowing of Christ's power at the Day of Judgment. How silently, surely, quickly, we shall be judged! Suppose now we had heard these words. Are we without sin? We must not hear for others, but listen for self. It is necessary to isolate each one, as I once saw the prisoners in the chapel of a prison. Each one was in a wooden enclosure, and no one could look at them but the chaplain. His eye could almost see into the heart of each. Thus we have to be isolated by the Word of Christ. As we feel His eye resting upon us, can we say that we are without sin? Enter those long-locked chambers of memory! Can you now blame others? Whatever we do, we should beware of playing the critic. The critic in society or in the house is a disagreeable person, and harms himself most by his criticisms. If manners or persons or utterances do not please, we may hide our dislike. We may take persons as we find them. Those who cannot please soon cease to try. Oh, that fault finders would remember these words! It is good to look to ourselves. We shall find failings enough to make us charitable. There is an old parable of a rusty shield that prayed, "O sun, illumine me," to which the sun replied, "First, polish yourself." We need to remember this and be pure ourselves. In men's eyes those respectable, well-dressed, pious-looking priests appeared of enviable purity, but a keen Eye saw their sin and sees ours.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,