While the Savior was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, some scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman who was guilty of adultery and asked whether she should be stoned, in accordance with the law of Moses. He confounded the accusers and showed mercy to the woman. Jesus also declared that the Father bears witness of Him, and He taught about freedom from sin. When Jesus Christ proclaimed He was the great Jehovah, the Pharisees tried to stone Him.
A woman taken in adultery is brought before the Savior
Scribes and Pharisees wanted to discredit Jesus in front of the people and to establish a reason to accuse Him because they wanted to arrest Him and put Him to death (see John 7:1, 32).
Read John 8:2–5, looking for what the scribes and Pharisees did while Jesus was teaching in the temple in Jerusalem.
According to John 8:6, why did the scribes and Pharisees bring the adulterous woman to Jesus?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how the scribes and Pharisees could have used this event as a reason to accuse Jesus:
“By the time of Jesus … it was no longer the practice to impose the death penalty for adultery. Indeed, no penalty of death could be imposed without the sanction and approval of the Roman overlords, and in case of adultery the law of Rome did not prescribe death.
“In bringing this adulteress to Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees were laying this trap for the Master: (1) If he agreed with Moses that she should be stoned, he would both (a) arouse the ire [anger] of the people generally by seeming to advocate the reinstitution of a penalty which did not have popular support, and (b) run counter to [against] the prevailing civil law by prescribing what Rome proscribed. (2) If he disagreed with Moses and advocated anything less than death by stoning, he would be accused of perverting the law, and of advocating disrespect of and departure from the hallowed practices of the past” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:450–51).
Instead of answering them, the Savior “stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground” (John 8:6).
Read John 8:7–8, looking for the Savior’s response to the scribes and Pharisees.
What do you think the scribes and Pharisees may have thought or felt when they heard Jesus’s response? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
After hearing the Savior’s response, those who were accusing the woman felt guilty and left without punishing the woman (see John 8:9).
What feelings do you think this woman may have had as her sin was exposed to Jesus and a large crowd of people? Read John 8:10–11, looking for what the Savior said to the woman after everyone left.
The Savior did not condone this woman’s sin but directed her to “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). From verse 11 we learn the following truth: The Savior shows us mercy by giving us opportunities to repent. Consider how this account can increase your confidence that Jesus Christ is merciful and kind and wants to forgive those who truly repent.
Jesus teaches that His Father bears witness of Him
Imagine an ornate object. Then close your eyes and, on a separate piece of paper, try to draw a simple picture of the object without looking.
How does your drawing compare with what you imagined?
Besides drawing, what are some other things you can do better when you can see what you are doing?
During the Feast of Tabernacles, four large golden candelabras (also called menorahs or candlesticks) illuminated the temple grounds during dances and other festivities that were held late into the night and early morning. These golden candelabras not only provided light for the celebrations, but they symbolized that Israel was to be a light to those who walked in darkness.
Read John 8:12, looking for what Jesus declared about Himself as He taught in the temple near where the candelabras stood. Consider marking what you find.
We learn from this verse that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World.
Complete the following principle from what we can learn from the Savior’s teaching in John 8:12: If we follow the Savior, we will ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How do you feel the Savior helps you avoid walking in spiritual darkness?
Several Old Testament prophecies indicate that the Messiah would be a light to all nations (see, for example, Isaiah 49:6; 60:1–3). Therefore, in declaring Himself to be the Light of the World, Jesus was proclaiming that He was the Messiah.
Read John 8:19, looking for what Jesus said about the Pharisees’ knowledge of Heavenly Father.
Based on verse 19, we learn the following principle: As we learn of Jesus Christ, we come to know the Father.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how we come to know about our Heavenly Father as we learn about His Son, Jesus Christ:
“In all that Jesus came to say and do, including and especially in His atoning suffering and sacrifice, He was showing us who and what God our Eternal Father is like, how completely devoted He is to His children in every age and nation. In word and in deed Jesus was trying to reveal and make personal to us the true nature of His Father, our Father in Heaven. …
“So feeding the hungry, healing the sick, rebuking hypocrisy, pleading for faith—this was Christ showing us the way of the Father, He who is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness’ [Lectures on Faith (1985), 42]” (“The Grandeur of God,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 70, 72).
In John 8:21–30 we read that the Savior warned the Pharisees that if they did not believe in Him, they would die in their sins. He also taught that He does nothing of Himself; He only does what the Father teaches Him to do.
Jesus teaches about freedom from sin
Have you ever been restricted in some way in your ability to move, like being tied up or unable to get out of a small space? How did that feel? As you study this portion of the lesson, look for what leads to spiritual restriction and what leads to spiritual freedom.
Read John 8:31–32, looking for what the Savior said we need to do in order to be free. Then, based on what you learned, fill in each blank in the following diagram:
Elder Bruce R. McConkie listed some of the freedoms we can enjoy if we continue in Christ’s word, become His disciples, and come to know the truth: “Free from the damning power of false doctrine; free from the bondage of appetite and lust; free from the shackles of sin; free from every evil and corrupt influence and from every restraining and curtailing power; free to go on to the unlimited freedom enjoyed in its fulness only by exalted beings” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:456–57).
Read John 8:33, looking for what the Jews believed made them free.
The Jews mistakenly believed that simply being descendants of Abraham and heirs to the Abrahamic covenant would make them spiritually free. Read John 8:34–36, looking for what Jesus said the people needed to be freed from.
From these verses we learn that if we commit sin and do not repent, then we become the servants of sin. What do you think it means to be “the servant of sin” (John 8:34)? The word translated as servant here may also be translated as slave.
Study the following diagram:
Some people today are confused, believing that following Christ’s word restricts them, while living a worldly lifestyle makes them free. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how the opposite is true:
“Yielding to [Satan’s] temptations leads to a narrower and narrower range of choices until none remains and to addictions that leave us powerless to resist. …
“… The world … [considers] obedience to God’s laws and ordinances to be ‘bondage’ (Alma 30:24, 27). So how does obedience and truth make us free? We can easily think of some practical ways in which truth gives us the ability to do things we otherwise could not do or to avoid disasters we might otherwise suffer. …
“… Does anyone doubt that, as a consequence of possessing all light and truth, God possesses ultimate freedom to be and to do?
“Likewise, as our understanding of gospel doctrine and principles grows, our agency expands. First, we have more choices and can achieve more and receive greater blessings because we have more laws that we can obey. Think of a ladder—each new law or commandment we learn is like one more rung on the ladder that enables us to climb higher. Second, with added understanding we can make more intelligent choices because we see more clearly not only the alternatives but also their potential outcomes” (“Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, 49–51).
Look through the For the Strength of Youth booklet for examples of how obedience to commandments and standards leads to freedom and how disobedience leads to bondage. Choose one standard from the booklet, and in your scripture study journal, copy and fill in the following chart:
Standard from For the Strength of Youth:
In what ways does living this standard bring freedom?
In what ways does not living this standard bring bondage?
What freedoms promised in For the Strength of Youth have you personally experienced as a result of obeying the commandments and standards? In your scripture study journal, record at least one specific way you will seek to be free by living according to the Savior’s teachings.
Jesus testifies of His divinity
Think of someone you know who is very similar to his or her father. Think of someone who is very different from his or her father.
John 8:37–50 records that Jesus Christ told the unbelieving Jews that whereas He spoke the words of His Father, they did the works of their father. Defensively, the Jews claimed that their father was Abraham. The Savior then taught that those who are children of Abraham “would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39) and would never seek to kill someone who taught truth. Jesus told these Jews (the Pharisees) that their father was the devil. He explained that those who receive God’s word are of God. Angry, the unbelieving Jews claimed Jesus was a Samaritan (whom the Jews believed were the lowest of all people) and was possessed by a devil.
Read John 8:51–53, looking for what these Jews then asked the Savior.
Read John 8:56–58, looking for Jesus’s response to the Pharisees’ question. Also read John 8:58, footnote b, looking for the meaning of the term “I AM.” (Note: The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament.)
The term “I AM” is important because it identifies Jehovah, the name by which the Jews recognized the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Old Testament times. By calling Himself “I am,” Jesus declared He was the God of the Old Testament. You might write the following doctrine in the margin of your scriptures next to John 8:58: Jesus Christ is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament.
Why do you think it is important for us to know that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read John 8:59, looking for how these Jews reacted to the Savior’s declaration that He was Jehovah.
The Jews picked up stones with the intent of killing Jesus, believing that He had committed blasphemy by identifying Himself as Jehovah.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 8 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher:
Answer for the diagram based on John 8:31–32: If we continue in Jesus Christ’s word, then we will be His disciples and know the truth, which will make us free.(click to view larger)