Instead of passing judgment on the woman, Jesus passed judgment on the judges! No doubt He was indignant at the way they treated the woman. He was also concerned that such hypocrites should condemn another person and not judge themselves. We do not know what He wrote on the dirt floor of the temple. Was He simply reminding them that the Ten Commandments had been originally written “by the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18), and that He is God? Or was He perhaps reminding them of the warning in Jeremiah 17:13? It was required by Jewish Law that the accusers cast the first stones (Deut. 17:7). Jesus was not asking that sinless men judge the woman, for He was the only sinless Person present. If our judges today had to be perfect, judicial benches would be empty. He was referring to the particular sin of the woman, a sin that can be committed in the heart as well as with the body (Matt. 5:27–30). Convicted by their own consciences, the accusers quietly left the scene, and Jesus was left alone with the woman. He forgave her and warned her to sin no more (John 5:14).
We must not misinterpret this event to mean that Jesus was “easy on sin” or that He contradicted the Law. For Jesus to forgive this woman meant that He had to one day die for her sins. Forgiveness is free but it is not cheap. Furthermore, Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law so that no one could justly accuse Him of opposing its teachings or weakening its power. By applying the Law to the woman and not to themselves, the Jewish leaders were violating both the letter and the spirit of the Law—and they thought they were defending Moses! The Law was given to reveal sin (Rom. 3:20), and we must be condemned by the Law before we can be cleansed by God’s grace. Law and grace do not compete with each other; they complement each other. Nobody was ever saved by keeping the Law, but nobody was ever saved by grace who was not first indicted by the Law. There must be conviction before there can be conversion. Nor is Christ’s gracious forgiveness an excuse to sin. “Go, and sin no more!” was our Lord’s counsel. “But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (Ps. 130:4). Certainly the experience of gracious forgiveness would motivate the penitent sinner to live a holy and obedient life to the glory of God.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 319–320). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.