John 8:3 Commentary - Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New TestamentOur Saviour early in the morning entering upon the work of preaching;
Observe, 1. What a mixed auditory he had, of scribes, and Pharisees, and common people. All sorts of persons came to hear him, but not all with the same intentions. The common people came to learn, but the scribes and Pharisees came to cavil and carp; the latter came to tempt and ensnare him, the former to be taught and instructed by him.
It is not our bare attendance upon ordinances, but the purity of our aim, and the sincerity of our intentions, in waiting upon God in them, that is an evidence of our sincerity.
Observe, 2. How the hypocrisy of these Pharisees was gilded over with an appearance of sanctity: as if they were great lovers of chastity, and haters of uncleanness, they bring to Christ a woman taken in adultery, to be censured by him. One that had not known these Pharisees, would have concluded them very holy and honest, very conscionable and conscientious persons; but Christ, who saw into their bosoms, soon found that all this was done only to tempt him. Thus a smooth tongue and a false heart often accompany one another: when we see a glittering appearance, we have reason to suspect the inside.
Observe, 3. The punishment which the Pharisees sought to have inflicted on this adulteress: it is death: Let her be stoned. Sometimes the punishment of adultery was burning, sometimes stoning, always death.
Lord! how ought Christians to blush, who have slight thoughts of the sin of adultery, which both Jews and pagans held ever deadly!
Observe, 4. Their ensnaring question: Moses commanded that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou? The Pharisees desire no better advantage against Christ, than a contradiction to Moses their lawgiver: it has been an old strategem to set Moses and Christ at variance; but they are fast friends; they are subordinate one to another, not opposed one against another. Moses brings us to Christ, and Christ to glory; fain would these colleaguing adversasries draw Christ to contradict Moses, that they might take advantage of the contradiction to condemn Christ.
Observe, 5. The wisdom and caution of our Lord's answer: he doth not excuse her crime, but bids her accusers look at home, and examine their own consciences, whether they were not guilty of the like, or as great a sin. He doth not say, "Let her be stoned;" this had been against the course of his mercy: he doth not say, "Let her not be stoned;" this had been against the law of Moses; but he so answers, that both his justice and his mercy are entire; she dismissed, and they ashamed. It is a false zeal that is eagle-eyed abroad, and blind at home. Such as are most wicked themselves, are oft-times most ready and skillful to spy out the faults and failings of others: we stand too near ourselves to discern our own miscarriages. The eye that sees every thing, sees not itself.
Observe, 6. Though Christ abhorred the sin, yet he does not condemn the sinner. Hath no man condemned thee? neither do I condemn thee, says Christ. This Christ said, not to excuse the woman, or to connive at her offence; but to show that he declined the office of a civil judge, which was to pass sentencce on criminals. He therefore doth not say, No man ought to condemn thee, but Hath no man condemned thee? Christ doth not execute the office of a magistrate in judging her to death; but of a minister in calling her to repentance and reformation.
How ought every one of us to keep within the bounds of our calling, when our Saviour himself will not entrench upon the office and functions of others!
Observe, lastly, our Saviour's cautionary direction to this adulteress: Go, and sin no more.
Where note, Christ doth not say, Go, and commit adultery no more; but, Go, and sin no more. It is not a partial repentance, or a turning away from this or that particular sin, which will denominate us true penitents, or entitle us to the pardoning mercy of God, but a leaving off all sin of what kind soever; therefore says Christ, Go, and sin no more.
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Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
William Burkitt (1650 - 1703) was a Church of England clergyman, bible expositor, and devotional writer.
Volume 1: Matthew - John, was published in 1700.
Volume 2: Acts - Revelation was published 1703.