Nothing keeps us humble like remembering our own sins and shortcomings, and perhaps nowhere in Scripture does Jesus more powerfully drive this point home than in the parable of the woman caught in adultery. Levitical law stated that anyone found in the act of infidelity was to be executed, which, in a story like this, leads me to wonder where the man was and why he wasn’t getting accused as well. Even worse, I ask myself how these “religious” zealots knew that this woman was in the middle of committing adultery…were they watching? There are many things wrong with this picture on many levels, so it’s no surprise that the Bible says the Pharisees were setting a trap for Jesus. Even worse was how readily they conspired against a fellow sinner with the intent of hastily carrying out her execution. You see, stoning wasn’t simply a group of people throwing rocks at someone. To the contrary, the law was very specific about the process, which involved taking the accused to a cliff that was eighteen feet high and pushing them off. Though their legs would typically be broken by the fall, it wasn’t normally enough to kill them, so anyone who believed the person to be in the wrong would take the largest stone they could find and toss it down the hill to finish the job. If only a couple of spectators threw rocks and the defendant survived, it was said that he or she wasn’t really guilty. However, in the case of this woman, it’s clear that the aim was to kill her by consensus. After bringing their accusations to Jesus, the increasingly angry teachers demanded an answer. Interestingly, rather than fighting loudly and rashly for her justice, the Lord knelt down in the sand and began to write. While we don’t know for sure what He penned, we do know that it got the Pharisees attention and that they grew quieter and quieter. By the time He made the exhortation, “Let the one who is without sin among you cast the first stone,” every single one, starting with the oldest, dropped their rocks and walked away.
My friend, as one who is saved by grace, don’t cast stones at others. Though sin is impervious and you are zealous for righteousness, always stand in the gap for mercy and forgiveness. While it’s good to hate wrongdoing, your highest aim as the Lord’s disciple is to love fellow sinners. As you grow in your understanding of how wide the chasm was that once separated you from your Savior, you can readily extend His pardon to other imperfect people. More than ever, the world needs you to bring unity to the midst of ongoing and escalating strife. Rather than joining with the crowd in throwing stones, be the person who comes to the rescue of the oppressed by ministering the justice and compassion of Jesus. You are His humble servant and as you resolve to carry your cross, you can embrace the difficult task of reaching the ones who seem the most unreachable with His undiscriminating love.