Let Him Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Stone

During Lent, one of the daily scriptures read was the famous scene in the eighth chapter of the Gospel according to John. Jesus has returned to the temple area and begins teaching all the people. The scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman they claim was caught in adultery. Being in the court area, they told him that Mosaic Law commanded that the woman be stoned to death for her sins. Trying to catch Him up in His words, they asked Jesus what He thought should be done with her. Jesus did not respond right away, but stooped down to begin writing in the dirt with His finger. After a moment, He straightened up and said:

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus then stooped down again and resumed writing in the dirt. One by one the scribes and Pharisees began to walk away. After a time, Jesus stood back up and was alone with the woman. He asked her:

“‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’

She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.'”

This beautiful passage always struck me, but it was not until a conversation with a friend about this narration that something stood out to me. Since we always like to bounce religious and spiritual ideas off of one another, my friend asked what I thought it was that Jesus wrote in the dirt. I replied jokingly that this was the only thing we hear of that Jesus wrote, but I wasn’t sure. But, after a few minutes more, I thought about what Jesus could have possibly written and why those accusing Him would suddenly walk away when they were trying to condemn Him and this woman as well. The phrasing of “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” struck me. Jesus was pointing out the fact that all of us sin. He knew this, and He knew that these holy leaders were sinners as well, even though they would not acknowledge it themselves.

I would propose that Jesus was writing out their sins in the dirt. This would explain why they would walk away one by one. Perhaps, as He wrote, each one recognized his own sins in what Christ wrote. Perhaps Jesus was writing the Ten Commandments, or perhaps the 613 Levitical Laws that these men were supposed to be following themselves. Either way, seeing their own sinfulness in what was displayed, these holy men walked away humbled. Sensing they had all left and now no one was in a position to accuse this woman, Jesus gives her the charge to go and sin no more.

This beautiful story reminds me of a little saying I picked up somewhere along the way: “Be careful who you point a finger at; you will always have at least three of your fingers pointing back at yourself.” We are all sinners, we are all fallen, and, most importantly, we all forget that from time to time. It is easy and quick to point out the splinter in another’s eye while forgetting the log in our own. Christ did not condemn this woman, but showed her love instead. Shouldn’t we do the same?

And just for giggles:

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