Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:2-11.
We have no idea what Jesus was writing in the dirt while the Pharisees were making their case against the woman. There is some reason to believe He was writing the names of the women these accusers were seeing on the side. Whatever it was, it must have helped them consider their own guilt and shame when He challenged them to make good on their righteous claim.
There was a real temptation for Jesus in this. They were insisting that to be a good Jew, He would have to become like them. He would have to selectively punish this woman while forgetting about the man she was caught with. Instead, He appealed to their consciences, and got them to drop the charges. For just a moment, they had to be like Him.
Jesus has not called us to catch people in their sins and shame them. He challenges us to remember the grace He has shown us and to show it to others. And He set us free so we can go and sin no more. Then we can begin to be more like Him.