Throwing Stones at Jesus
One of my favorite Bible stories is found in John 8. It’s about the women who was caught in adultery by the religious leaders. They were testing Jesus to see how He would respond to this clear violation of the Law. The Law was clear that adulterers were to be stoned.
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ” He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, ” I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:1-11, NASB)
I see a lot of parallels with this first century story and our lives today. There are still many religious people today that are ready to cast stones at people who sin differently than they do, or who might see things from a different perspective.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I have held a few stones in my own hands ready to stone someone because they committed a “terrible sin” (in my eyes) or their perspective seemed strange or stupid to me. Other times, I have been ready to stone someone because they hurt me, offended me or betrayed me.
I wish the Bible was more clear on the exact picture of what was happening here. Was Jesus and the accused woman standing in the middle of a circle of angry men? Were they up against a wall? What did Jesus write in the sand? Was the woman afraid of Jesus too? Did she hide behind Jesus as He spoke?
I would like to think that somehow Jesus stood between the mob and the woman. If not physically, he certainly was standing between them metaphorically. I like to think that in order to stone this woman, the men would have had to go through Jesus to do so. To throw a stone at her would have been to throw a stone at Jesus.
I say that because Jesus seemed to always identify with the down and out, the least, lost and the last. He seemed to identify with those that no one else would identify with — tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the Samaritan woman. In my mind He was always standing between the religious folks and the ones they wanted to condemn.
Is it any different today? Religious folks are still wanting to condemn those on the outside . . . those sinners. Religious folks are ready to cast stones of judgment at the world for being the world. Religious folks are really good at declaring what they are against instead of what God is for.
Who are the religious folks? How do we identify them? How do we identify it in ourselves?
Look at your hand. Is there a rock in it?
I have to admit I have had, and probably still have, a rock or two in my hand.
Why would I say that? Because I’ve judged other people’s actions instead of trying to understand their hearts. Because I’ve thought that in my own walk with Jesus that somehow I was better than someone else who just wasn’t “getting it.” Because someone hurt me, betrayed me or offended me and I wanted to hurt them back. Because I was looking at someone else’s sins but was not willing to deal with my own.
I stand with a rock in my hand because it’s easier to focus on someone else’s sins and issues than to deal with my own.
The problem is that to throw my stone I have to throw it at Jesus because Jesus is the lamb of God that takes AWAY the sins of the world! He stands with the condemned against the accusers and declares, “go ahead and throw a sin IF you have no sin in your own life.”
See, Jesus died for the sins of the one who hurt me, abused me, betrayed me, offended me. He took their sins away just like He took my sins away. He will stand with me against my accusers. He loved me with compassion when I was the one caught in the act. He took the stones that people threw at me.
Anthony Chapman, a brilliant communicator of the gospel from York, England, said in a recent sermon that instead of walking away from the scene after Jesus’ response that these men should have went and stood with this woman because they needed the same grace Jesus was offering her. They had a chance to receive grace but walked away. That’s definitely an interesting thought.
I think I will drop my rocks, empty my pockets of any spare rocks I am carrying, and go stand behind Jesus. That seems like a safe place to me.