Today we see Jesus judging the adulterous woman. The friend of the sinners was going to be in a position to have to condemn one of his friends. But when he came to judge, he said: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
This is one of the most well-known stories of the New Testament. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone is how many of us remember this line. Jesus teaches us that we ought to reflect on our own sin and guilt as we sit in judgment toward others.
This was a very public moment. Jesus was in the temple courts with crowds of people all around. Some people think that public sin should be dealt with publicly. It’s part of accountability culture overflowing into shame culture.
The adulterous woman is brought before crowd. She is being used as a pawn to see if Jesus will honour Mosaic law. He had been pushing on the religious leaders’ adherence to the Law relating to healing on the Sabbath, which they said was forbidden. Jesus had most recently said, “Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly,” (John 7:23-24).
Oh… they’ll judge correctly. The question is, will you, Jesus? Will you judge correctly? That’s why the Pharisees brought the woman before him. The friend of the sinners was now going to be in a position to have to condemn one of his friends.
No one knows what Jesus was writing on the ground. You can google the speculations if you want. Whatever it was, they could see his writing. And they heard his words. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Regardless of what Jesus wrote, he was looking down while each of the accusers scurried away like rats. When none were left, Jesus pronounced her free to go. Neither do I condemn you. In his mercy, Jesus also steered her away from sin. Leave it. Leave your life of sin.
Ahhh… she was guilty. The point wasn’t whether she was or wasn’t. She was guilty. And so were her accusers. This is why Jesus is entrusted with judgment and not you and me. Jesus is not guilty and we are.
Go now and leave your life of sin. Forget about hers…