Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
- John 8:16
Jesus said this to the Pharisees immediately after he released the adulteress from their grip. The interesting part of that adultery dialogue is how he handled the question.
These scurrilous spiritual vagabonds had firstly set the woman up, trapping her, which is why the male wasn’t present, and they now want to set up Jesus.
Verses 4-5 state that they, in their objective to condemn him, asked a cunning half-question, “they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?”
Had they asked the full question, the adulterer would have been standing beside her.
Jesus, knowing that it was not Moses, but His own Father, God, who wrote that commandment, and seeing the adulteress but not the adulterer captive, didn't bother answering the question.
Their question directly challenged the integrity of the adulteress they held, so, He made a statement which challenged their own integrity, saying, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
As we know, from the eldest to the youngest, they walked away from that fight. Every one of them knew they had sin in them or had sinned not too long ago.
They brought the woman to Jesus for conviction, but, scripture states they were actually the accused, being convicted by their own conscience.
Jesus didn't need to put on his judge's robe to deliberate over either case — the woman or the Pharisees. When we have a conscience that convicts us, and we listen to it, we don't need a judge either. The trouble was that despite them being convicted, and despite them being now forced to let the adulteress go free, little did they do about their own sin.
In fact, once they were over the embarrassment of having this God-man spying on their conscience, they came right back at Him with another question.
Jesus completed His adultery dialogue by telling them He was the light of the world. These accusers, not wanting that light shining on their corruption any further, proceeded just like lawyers in court who are less interested in the truth than trapping the opposition's witness in a mistake, said, “...Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.”
Then Jesus responded with our key scripture, a phrase which should concern us all, “…Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.”
These short discussions in John 8 provide us with an excellent eyeglass look into our own biases and decisions. When it comes to the Bible, we don't need volumes of legal case studies to provide us with sound judgements. It is brief and direct, stapling God's decisions to cases.
As our scripture indicates, when we make judgments or have thoughts ‘alone’ without ‘the father’, we can quite easily judge like the Pharisees, with our own objectives and biases in mind.
Conversely, when we make decisions or have thoughts and ’the Father’ is involved, we show much more mercy, greater balance in our judgements, and a keener insight into others' lives before we share our thoughts.
Some find it preferable to leave the Father out of decisions, as the temptation to condemn overrides their engagement with the Lord; however, the fruit of the spirit challenges these desires and refines our choices.
Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the way Jesus engaged the Pharisees, and for the mercy he showed the woman, and the judgment he delivered to her to no more engage in sin. Please help me deliver sound decisions, and to engage the ‘Father’ before I make them.