ONE DAY, WHILE TEACHING IN THE TEMPLE, Jesus was interrupted by a group of scribes and Pharisees, members of the religious hierarchy. They had brought with them a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery (see John 8:1–11). They told Jesus that the law of Moses required her to be stoned, and then they challenged him by demanding to know what he thought should be done with her. They may have been hoping that he would contradict the Mosaic requirement, so they could charge him with condoning a serious sin.
Backed by Mosaic law, the scribes and Pharisees wanted to condemn the woman to death. But Jesus' life-mission was completely opposed to condemnation and death. He had earlier explained to another Pharisee: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16, 17).
Jesus' divine, healing purpose, his pure love, inspired everything he did. His response to the scribes' and Pharisees' challenge was not to strike out at them but to uplift both them and the woman. With a few words he defused the accusers' self-righteous cruelty, so that they all left without harming the woman. Then Jesus lifted the woman to a higher standard of thinking and conduct. Knowing her true status as a loved child of God, he said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."