1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They 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. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9At 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. 10Jesus 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."
"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7
When you get involved in God's mission to lost and broken people, things can get kind of messy. Churches that are knee-deep in evangelism and community development find that committees don't fix the messes of people's lives; it's personal relationships that count.
The people who came to Jesus with a woman caught in adultery didn't care about the woman; they just wanted to trap Jesus, who didn't play by their rules.
Do you ever have a stone in your hand? Do you have a judgmental attitude toward people who have made bad choices? Do you ever pass judgment on people whose kids are a little wild, or whose marriage isn't working, or who don't live by the rules and traditions you've grown up with?
Stone throwers are grace killers, and they are one reason why some churches hardly ever see lost people find their way back to God at their church.
Jesus challenges the accusers who brought the woman, and one by one they drop their stones and walk away. Then he says to her, "Neither do I condemn you." That's grace: no condemnation from Jesus. But then he also adds, "Go now and leave your life of sin." That is grace and truth.
Which do you find easier to speak--grace or truth? Jesus wants us to practice both--and to do so in love.
Lord, forgive us for throwing stones at people who don't pass our standards. Thank you for showing us how to embrace people who need your love, just as we do. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!