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TOPICAL DISCUSSIONS

The Adulterous Woman
God's Grace; Our Past


Main Point of Discussion: As Jesus saves the adulterous woman’s life, he saves our lives. As Jesus commands her, therefore, to leave her life of sin, he commands us to do the same.

Vital Info Before You Get Started: (The following should help you contextualize this important issue so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.)

  • Participatory dramatic reading based on the account of Jesus and the Adulterous Woman (John 8:1-11).

  • I've used this thought-provoker with groups of unchurched kids who don't know the Bible, and I've used it with adults with seminary degrees—it works equally well!

  • Read John 8:1-11 aloud. Then ask your family members to act out the different characters in this passage—they won't have to act as much as consider what their characters would be thinking or doing at that moment. You can be the narrator, then assign someone to be Jesus, assign several people to be teachers of The Law & Pharisees—and be careful to whom you assign the woman (make sure it's a family member who isn't going to be ridiculed or too uncomfortable playing the role of an adulterous woman). If you don’t have enough family members, assign more than one role to each family member.

  • Ask questions as the story goes on. Try to create discussion (possible answers that you might target are in parenthesis)

  • But first read the passage and ask the intro questions—if there’s interest, go back and do the reading with your family members.


First, read John 8:1-11 aloud, all the way through…
      But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. [2] At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. [3] The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group [4] and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. [5] In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" [6] They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. [7] 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." [8] Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. [9] 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. [10] Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" [11] "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
    Q: What’s going on in this passage?
    A: An adulterous woman is about to be stoned to death by a mob; the teachers of the Law try to use the situation to discredit Jesus by trapping him with a difficult question to answer. But Jesus turns the tables on the mob and the Pharisees, telling them that any one of them can throw a stone at her—as long as that person is sinless. They all walk away. The woman is saved. Jesus does not condemn her—but commands her to leave behind her sinful ways.

    Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this Bible passage?
    A: We should identify with the adulterous woman. She sinned, we sin. We’re no better than her. Remember…God’s standards are much higher than ours: “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

    Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this situation to actually living out those opinions?
    A: Jesus stopped her execution, saving her life—and he then commanded her to leave her life of sin. We must fall on our knees as well, thanking Jesus for saving us—then every day we must make a choice to leave our lives of sin as an act of love and obedience toward God.


Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, keep engaging them.


For Deeper Discussion: (If your kids seem into diving in deeper, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)

CLICK HERE if you want to look at a quick training article on small groups and drawing questions out of young people—you may find much of the information applicable as you go through this subject with your family members.

Transition Statement:

Okay, let’s go through the passage together as a role play, with each of you reading your assigned lines. I’ll ask questions in between sets of verses. Go!
      "But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. [2] At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. [3] The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group . . ."
  1. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: If this was an act of adultery . . . where was the man? (Parent—answer you may be looking for: maybe it was a set-up and he was in on it)

  2. ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER (PLAYING THE WOMAN): How do you feel? (Parent—answer you may be looking for: ashamed, scared of being stoned)

    • " . . . [4] and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. [5] In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" [6] They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him."

    Say: These guys were trying to get Jesus in a catch 22. If he answered "stone her"- he was in trouble with Roman law, forbidding local governments to impose the death penalty (which is why they brought Jesus to Pilate later). If he answered "let her go," he would be going against the Mosaic Law.

      "But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. . ."

  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: The Bible never tells us what Jesus wrote on the ground—do you believe it's important to the story? If yes, why? (Parent—answer you may be looking for: It was important because it took the attention away from the woman.)

  4. ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER (PLAYING THE WOMAN): How do you feel now?

    • " . . . [7] 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." [8] Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground . . ."

  5. ASK THE FAMILY MEMBERS PLAYING THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW: What are you thinking now? (Parent—answer you may be looking for: Uh oh! Maybe he knows what we did- we can't stone her now)

    • " . . . [9] 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. [10] Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" [11] "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

  6. ASK ONE FAMILY MEMBER (PLAYING THE WOMAN): What are you thinking now? (Parent—the answer you may be looking for: Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!)

Wrap Up:
Jesus didn't condemn her. He basically said, "I don't care where you've been, but I care where you are going." Jesus is saying the same thing to us. "I don't care where you've been- but I care where you're going." How we arrived at our time together doesn't matter- how we go from here does.

Close in Prayer

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