“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27

Jesus loved the Pharisees but he didn’t hesitate to confront them over their behaviour as this verse points out. Likewise in his dealings with the woman at the well, Jesus didn’t hesitate to point out her problem, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband” (John 4:17-18). Yet in dealing with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) Jesus is much more subtle in his approach. Different situations call for different reactions.

Jesus always acted in the best interests of the person he was dealing with whether that was to be confrontational, or more subtle. Jesus’ love for people meant that he was sensitive to a person’s individual circumstances, and this was why his love was radical and unpredictable. Jesus dealt with the reasons for people’s behaviour. He didn’t need to tell the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery that their behaviour was wrong, they already knew. However, they did need Jesus to free them from the bondage to their behaviour and the lies they believed. It was through God’s love and forgiveness that these women would find the strength to live righteous lives in the future.

Meanwhile, the Pharisees needed a strong reprimand over their behaviour since they didn’t even realize what they were doing was wrong. To leave the Pharisees unchallenged in their hypocrisy wouldn’t have been loving.

It’s a huge challenge for us as we learn to love people the way Jesus did.