John 8:1-11- The overt and covert sinners.
I am going to tackle these eleven verses with the weight that they deserve.
Jesus is in Jerusalem. The Gospel of John sees Jesus in Jerusalem on five different occasions. Two during a Passover (John 2.13, 12.12), one during an unnamed festival (John 5.1), then again in Chapter 7:14 when he arrives in the middle of the festival of booths and one at Hanukkah or the festival of dedication (John 10.22). The synoptics on the other hand record Jesus in Jerusalem only toward his final days of his ministry; though a careful reading of Luke 2:41 states that the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. This by extension once can surmise that Jesus joined his parents every year as he would have accompanied them to Jerusalem for the Passover. We know of one such incident when he was twelve years old and was ‘lost’ in the temple.
Our text today takes place a day after the festival of booths has ended with Jesus declaring “let anyone who is thirsty come to me.” The response of the crowd ranged from hailing him as the prophet to the Messiah (7:40,41) with even the temple police having returned without arresting Jesus because he spoke with authority. The Pharisees and the authorities were at the end of their tether and watching the crowds follow Jesus declared the masses who they considered religiously illiterate, as accursed (7:49). None were to be spared the wrath of religious authorities; not even Nicodemus who because he asserted the rule of law for a just defense (7:51) was scoffed at contemptuously as a Galilean (7:52).
Scripture now tells us that “each one of them went to their home while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, one of Jerusalem’s seven hills. This seems to be the place of quiet prayer for Jesus while he is in Jerusalem. (Luke 21:37, Luke 22: 39). One had to cross the Kidron valley to the Mount of Olives where there was a garden called Gethsemane at the foot of the mountain. He will return here just after the last supper to pray for the last time with his disciples. It is here that he will be betrayed by Judas.
This brings us to the heart of the text for today, John 8:2 tells us that Jesus arrives in the temple early the next morning and people came to him. The Gospel of Luke will tell us that the people too woke up early to come to listen to him teach and that’s what he did on this occasion too. “All the people came to him”; this was a large crowd and from the events that unfold we can surmise that Jesus was sitting in the court of the women which was between the court of the Gentiles and the Court of the Men.