They’ve caught her in a bad situation and excitedly drag her out to face punishment. We don’t know her story aside from this moment. We don’t know the circumstance or the setup. What we do know is a bunch of men, bent on discrediting Jesus, are using this woman to further their agenda. These men don’t appear to care about the woman and we know they don’t care about Jesus (apparently they don’t care about the man the woman was with). Read it for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion.
…Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.John 8:1-11 (New International Version)
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 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. 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.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
It is so easy for me to imagine the scene. The smirks and the snickering. The mean shove that propels her toward Jesus as they form up preparing to throw the rocks they have selected to deliver their scorn. I shake my fist at these self-righteous men. I smile at Jesus’ wisdom and having one-upped these punks. I am happy for the woman who is surely embarrassed but who is very much alive. As the men slink off, I think, “Yeah. Get out of here and don’t come back again with any more of your nonsense!”
It is at this point I notice the rock in my own hand.
I have hurled many rocks in my short life. You could make a mountain of them. I rejoice at the men turned back to consider their own brokenness thinking I am somehow different; believing I am better.
This is the root of my sin and perhaps all sin; to consider myself better than others. Call it pride or hubris or self-righteousness or arrogance. They are all born from the same lie I tell myself to ward off my own insecurities. I want to hate these “teachers of the law and Pharisees,” but I am one of them.
Like them I think if I can point out your sin, surely that makes mine more acceptable, right?
If I’m hurling the rock perhaps that means I can avoid having a rock hurled at me.
So many rocks. So much pain. Jesus offers/is another way. Instead of punishing others, how can we help them live new lives? It looks like it starts with dropping my rock, and changing my own life.
God of second-chances,
Give me hands unable to pick up the rock I would throw at another.
Give me eyes to see my own sin instead of that of others.
Give me your forgiveness and grace when I fall short.
Give me the courage to leave my rocks as I leave my life of sin.
Give to me what I would give to others; may it be your love. Amen.
Life is better together,