Despite what we read in the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, from before the time of Jesus, adulterers were not stoned to death.
The point is not whether to follow or ignore the command but how to arrive at the intention of God from the command put into words by Moses.
Perhaps you’ve seen paintings or films of this Gospel passage, the Scribes and Pharisees with stones in hand; but the Gospel doesn’t mention anything like that! Reread it for yourself.
What I’m saying may contradict our caricature of Judaism as a rigidly legalistic religion, but that is a caricature. Some rabbis taught that when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, had Abraham said, “Lord, I would do your will, but to take a human life is unworthy of your life-giving majesty,” God would have been well pleased by his insight and would have sent the Messiah then and there. Abraham understood the command literally and lost a golden opportunity.
You see, in Jewish practice, Revelation isn’t a dead code but a living Word, inviting us to engage the living God, to read between the lines, wrestle with its meaning and discover God at a deeper level.
The confrontation depicted here is contentious, but it is also an engagement with God’s Word. As these Scribes and Pharisees walked away shamed, did any of them take a new path, enlightened by mercy?
And this wretched woman, hasn’t her life already been taken by this exposure of her sin? I imagine she wished she were dead. Wouldn’t that have been easier than pulling her life back together? Did she face divorce or reconciliation? Mercy can leave us as vulnerable as punishment; and perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps Jesus has “stoned” her with mercy and forgiveness and the strength to change her life. Her old life was over and gone.
Am I brazenly invulnerable in either my virtue or my vice? Am I isolated in my independence? Can I, strong or weak, accept forgiveness, that is, interact with God, or have I become my own god?