The Woman Taken in Adultery

Can Christ break His own laws?

April 24-30

If you prefer to listen over reading an article, keep an eye on Autumn Dickson on YouTube or various podcast platforms. I post video and podcast versions of my blog posts on my Youtube channel and on the podcast platforms: Apple, Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

Looking for a different week in the Come Follow Me program? Check out this link to find posts by week: 

One of the most well-known stories in the New Testament surrounds the woman who was taken in adultery. There are a great many lessons we can pull from this interaction between the Savior, the Jewish elite, and the woman, but we can pull even more lessons out if we understand the Law of Moses on a deeper level. 

So some elite Jews bring a woman to the Savior who was apparently taken in adultery. Judging from the rest of the story, this does seem to be the case. The Jews then ask the Savior this:

John 8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

Seems fairly straightforward, but here is what is truly occurring in that diabolical setup. The Jews had purposefully brought this case before Christ because they wanted to trap Him. At this point in time, Jesus seemed to only have two options. His first option was to discourage the stoning and pervert the ways of the Law of Moses. His second option was to agree with the Law of Moses in its entirety that the woman should be stoned. This practice had fallen to the wayside because of its immense unpopularity combined with the fact that the Jews weren’t allowed to practice capital punishment without the approval of Rome. By approving of the stoning, He was likely to incur the wrath of the people. It seemed as though no matter what Christ chose, He was going to lose. 

And that’s precisely why Christ’s answer was so dang cool. 

In response to their query, Christ pauses for a moment (we may never know in this lifetime what was written in that dirt) and then turns to them with this response.

John 8:7…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Now there are a lot of people that take this response from Christ as proof of His ability to supersede the Law of Moses. They believe that Christ can do whatever He wants and ignore the laws that He gave because He is the Christ. However, if we can understand the Law of Moses on a deeper level, we can find a different story.

There was another part of the Law of Moses that was applicable to this story. It was the law of witnesses. In the Law of Moses, there had to be two witnesses that would be cross examined to make sure that a crime had actually been committed. If the witnesses were found to be falsely accusing, they were to receive the punishment they had intended for the one they accused.

Christ was inviting two witnesses to come and give their testimony according to the Law of Moses. He turned the tables. He flipped the uncomfortable decisions squarely into their arena which is ultimately why they all decided to slither out. These were pious people who were extremely proud of their righteousness; I have a sneaking suspicion that being accused of imperfection would not have stirred their consciences enough to make them back off. What likely happened was this:

The Jews now had a couple of options. They could back off (which they chose to do), or they could choose to be cross examined. Standing up to be cross examined posed two problems. The first problem is that they would incur the same ire from the people that they had intended for Jesus in reinstating the unpopular practice of stoning. The second problem is conjecture if I’m being totally transparent. There was something awfully suspicious about the fact that they had caught this woman in the very act of adultery but had somehow failed to bring forth the man. What was their story? Had they established the story ahead of time? Would they be found lacking in their testimonies as official witnesses for the Law of Moses? Would they be stoned for accusing the woman inadequately? They wanted to delegitimize Jesus but not at the potential expense of their lives or in the very least, their own popularity and clout. 

Not only did Christ win, but He totally showed up the Jewish elite by highlighting His perfect knowledge of the law. They had tried to use it against Him, and He turned the tables. His answer was so epic. 

Now why is this so important? It’s way cool that Christ had a perfect knowledge of the law and worked within that law, but what can we glean from His actions and words?

Christ didn’t break the Law of Moses

As I mentioned previously, there are a great many people out there who use this story as an example of Christ superseding the Law of Moses. He is above the law. He broke the Law of Moses when He didn’t demand for it to be fulfilled and have the woman stoned. Many believe that Christ simply chooses to be merciful when He chooses to be merciful because He is all-powerful and can do whatever He wants without consequence.

Now this is a really fascinating concept. Do we believe that Christ is above the law? Do we believe that Christ can break His own law as He chooses and still be who He is? Can Christ do whatever He wants with no consequences because He is Christ? There may be many in the Christian world who believe He can do whatever He wants simply because He is the Christ, but this is not what we believe.

Alma 42:13…Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.

Christ would have ceased to be Christ if He had chosen to break the Law of Moses; it’s important to understand that Christ did not deny the law in this story because it changes what we know about Christ and what is expected of us. 

Christ is perfect and enjoys eternal life because of how He acts and who He chooses to be at any given moment. If He were to break the law simply because He is Christ and believes He can, He would no longer be perfect. He would no longer be completely consistent. He wouldn’t be who He says He is. Would the waves and winds still obey Him? I’m not so sure considering the fact that He works by priesthood authority. Christ would cease to be Christ should He choose to no longer act like Christ. 

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ enjoy eternal life because They choose to live it, moment by moment. Think of our entire existence as a game with rules; there is no chance involved. Whether you win completely comes down to what you choose. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have mastered those rules and win every single time. 

In the universe-game, wickedness simply never was happiness. Even if wickedness is happy for a moment, it ultimately threatens to destroy the happiness that can exist in the Celestial Kingdom. It will threaten the peace within ourselves. It will threaten the happiness of others. That is a simple fact, and not even Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can circumvent it. They cannot rob justice where it has its claim. If They chose to try and do so, They would lose their own eternal life (which simultaneously means we would all lose our’s).

Christ did not break the law of Moses. He is unchanging. He is not some dictator that can actually do whatever He wants without consequence. He is actually a Being who has chosen perfection in every single one of His thoughts and actions, and because of that perfection, He lives an eternal life.

Thank heaven our situation is slightly different

Now this might seem intimidating for those of us who make mistakes on a regular basis and break the universe-game rules, but it doesn’t have to feel intimidating. It is my personal belief that the only ones who don’t make it to the Celestial Kingdom are those who willfully refuse it because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Christ had to be perfect so He could perform the atonement. The atonement enables Him to cleanse us for the Celestial Kingdom so long as we don’t destroy the feeling there. He can’t allow us in if we willfully choose to live contrary to eternal life.

Let me give you a real world example. 

I tend to be extremely sensitive to hormones and so when I’m pregnant, I’m not always the most pleasant and easy person to be married to. However, my husband is aware of this fact, and I try to apologize for it regularly. I also try to warn him if I’m feeling particularly down. Though my mood may turn stormy, the heaven in my marriage tends to persist because of the mutual understanding and forgiveness. I do my best to try and be nurturing, but when I fail, I know that it doesn’t have to destroy our marital happiness. 

And it works vice versa with Conner. When he’s going through a particularly bad time and feeling short-tempered, I do my best to be supportive and give him space and encouragement. He also apologizes for it when he knows his attitude has affected the home, and that makes all the difference. Combine this understanding and compassion with the fact that temptations cease on the other side, and we will find life quite heavenly.

Compare that with a marriage where one or both individuals persist in feeling entitled to the best treatment at all times. Compare it to a marriage where one individual feels as though they can stomp on everyone else in the house simply because they’ve had a bad day; they don’t feel like they owe anyone anything. There is a completely different kind of spirit in that home, and it’s not heavenly.

Mistakes are nothing to Christ and His atonement. They are meaningless or they become good lessons. We don’t have to fear our mistakes. We simply should focus on becoming the kind of people who create a heavenly home despite our mistakes. That is a very good litmus test for whether we will enjoy the Celestial Kingdom. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we have time to learn the rules of the universe-game and to master those rules so that we can live like our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s