The passage of primary concern here is the woman caught in adultery. The story beings John 8:
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Again, it’s a story that we’ve heard over and over. Generally we hear of forgiveness. On occasion we might hear something of the command to the woman to, as Newhart might have told her, “Stop it!” On rare occasion something else comes out. It has to do with the Mosaic Law and the character of the scribes and Pharisees.
That fact that she was caught “in adultery” means that they knew the person she was caught with. Whether the act of adultery was en flagrante or a flirtation to that end (seen by them, and by us today, as equally immoral) matters not. (Ok, “in the very act” lends toward en flagrante.) The relationship became adulterous when both participated. It’s not an act which one might or can commit alone.
Bu there’s something else about the Pharisees and their persistent claims to their Abrahamic heritage that we should keep in mind. Take a look back at Tamar in Genesis 38. First Onan refused his obligations and treated Tamar, and his brother, with dishonor. The Judah, failing to recognize her, treated her as a prostitute and did what his son failed to do. To be brief, it’s about more than sexual infidelity. It’s about promiscuity. Onan did what he wanted. Tamar did what she wanted (moving out). Judah did what he wanted with her.
Think of Jesus’ teaching in this regard: The scribes and Pharisees, and the woman, were all caught in promiscuity. It’s not just the woman’s adultery. It was the casual sexual lifestyle of the pharisees that Jesus was confronting.
The scribes and Pharisees could have sought forgiveness. They did not. Only the woman did. And then Jesus worked to break the immorality cycle by commanding her to not just sense sorrow for sin but to change (repent).
The point here is that the persistent of the Pharisees’ claim of preference before God through Abraham fall son its face when they fail in faith. In their virtues they deny the claim that they are making. It’s an argument against the Pharisees that is bigger than the moment. It’s all about their sense of preferential position and privilege. Jesus has a habit of challenging preferential position and privilege.