Main Point: Jesus is a Man of compassion and love and is much more concerned with our future than our past.
Discussion Starter: Reading and Recreation of The Adulterous Woman (Jn 8:1-11)
Read John 8:1-11 aloud. Then ask for volunteers to come up and act out the different parts of this passage – they won’t have to act as much as they will be asked to think what that person would be thinking or doing at that moment. Assign roles to different students. Assign someone to be Jesus, assign several people to be a group of teachers of the Law & Pharisees. Instruct others to just be those “in the crowd that day.” Pick others to be Jesus’ disciples. Of course, you’ll need to assign someone to be the sinful woman, but be careful; make sure it’s someone who isn’t going to be ridiculed for playing an adulterous woman.
Ask questions as the story goes on. Try to create discussion (possible answers that you might target are in parenthesis below).
- John 8:1-11
“But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.”
- ASK A FEW: What were the two reasons these religious people had for bringing this particular woman to Jesus? (Leaders – First, the woman had actually been caught in the middle of a very serious sin, but second, those men only wanted to use her to trick Jesus.)
- ASK A FEW: Think about this: if they were trying to trap Jesus, and they decided to use this method, how do you think they had to go about catching a woman committing adultery? (Leaders – There are lots of POSSIBLE answers to this question: maybe the woman was set up, maybe the religious leaders just got lucky and found her, maybe she had a reputation…. No one really knows for sure, but it will get your students thinking.)
- ASK A FEW: Since time began, it takes at least TWO to have adultery. Why didn’t the religious leaders bring the man, as well? (Leaders – Again, there are several possible answers: maybe the man was one of them, maybe he was “too important” to get in trouble, maybe he conned his way out of it, etc.)
- ASK THE GIRL: If you were really in this predicament, standing there alone, crying, with everyone in the streets knowing what you were doing, how would you feel? (Leaders – She will probably say, “Ashamed.” She might say, “Afraid of being killed.”)
- ASK THE GIRL: How would you feel if you really discovered that others were using you to hurt someone else?
SAY THIS: These religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus in a Catch 22. If he answered “stone her” – he would be in trouble with Roman law which forbade local governments to impose the death penalty without their permission. (This is why the Jews had to bring Jesus to Pilate later.) But if Jesus answered “let her go,” he would be going against the Mosaic Law that called for the death of an adulterer.
 “But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. . .”
” . . .  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground . . .”
” . . .  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. . .”
” . . . Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I hope that “stepping into this story” helps you understand that Jesus was truly a Man of compassion and love. It’s not that He didn’t care about the Jewish Law; in fact, Jesus LOVED the Law! But He also loved her. And since He, the Son of God, was willing to forgive her, He expected them to do so, as well.
Jesus didn’t condemn her. He basically said, “I know where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing, but that need not matter anymore. I care about where you are going from here.”
I truly believe Jesus is saying the same thing to us. How we walked in the door tonight doesn’t matter as much as how we leave those same doors tonight.
My question is, “Have you heard Jesus say to you, “I don’t condemn you, but leave your life of sin”?
(Share the Gospel and close in prayer.)
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.