Jesus was getting on their nerves.
Whereas the crowds saw them as the religious elite of society, Jesus saw through their facade and had no qualms comparing them to, “manicured grave plots, [with] grass clipped…flowers…but six feet down… [were] all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh.”
Religious people really don’t like being compared to corpses, so they want Him dead and need legitimate religious grounds to do so. Enter woman caught in adultery.
It’s the perfect setup. After catching her in bed with another woman's husband, dragging her across town, and thrusting her in front of a hostile crowd, they ask Jesus, “[Hey] 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?”
This was a well thought-out trap. It was a lose-lose situation because there’s really no right answer! First off, the Law of Moses in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22-24 did in fact condemn adulterers to be stoned publicly. If Jesus rejected this law and commanded that the woman be released, He would be accused of breaking the law and His credibility, as being from God, would be lost. On the other hand, He’d spent the better part of His ministry teaching about loving one’s neighbor, forgiveness, compassion and turning the other cheek. If He simply condemned the woman to death in keeping with the law, all of His teachings would immediately be called into question. Further more, Jews did not have the authority to execute anyone without Roman permission. If Jesus honored God’s law and condemned her to be stoned to death, He would have incurred the wrath of Rome. But if He submitted to Roman law by giving her a pass, then He would be ignoring God’s law.
This is the ultimate crappy-day for Jesus, and frankly, only someone with the mind of God could have thought up what He did next.
In what appears to be a delaying device so they have time to reflect on the hypocrisy of their actions, Jesus pauses to play in the sand, then straightens up and lays the theological equivalent of a suplex on them. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (If this were a football game, this is where Jesus would spike the ball after a touchdown and go, “BOOM!!” // Hand motions and all //, then do a little dance in the end zone.)
But I digress.
One by one, from oldest to youngest, they DROP THEIR ROCKS and walk away because they’ve come face to face with the reality that they’re just as guilty as the woman that want to stone to death.
You know what’s even more incredible about this moment? It’s the fact that Jesus doesn’t lecture the woman, but completely forgives her, accepts her, (without approving of her sin), then lovingly sends her home with one simple instruction; “You are completely forgiven. Now, go and act like it.”
Okay. Let’s turn our attention to today.
We are all at different junctures on our spiritual journey. When you (as a follower of Christ saved by grace) encounter others who are moving slower than you’d like, here are three words to remember: DROP THE ROCKS!
Believe it or not, it is possible to love a person without approving of their sin or without being condescending to them. The fact of the matter is that until you drop whatever accusatory rocks you’re holding, you won’t able to point “the fallen” back to Jesus (which is the goal, right?).
The goal in Christian correction ISN’T to point out sin, it’s to point people back to Jesus. This by the way, is why it is completely foolish, meaningless, futile, and foolish to “Share”, “Like”, or “Retweet” newslinks on social media of other people’s failures. If you haven’t prayed for them in your personal prayer closet or reached out to them personally to offer Biblical consolation, but simply serve as another conduit to further spread the news of their failure, then guess what? Sharing their sin publicly is you throwing rocks at them!
Like the accused woman in our story, the Bible makes a strong case that when you came to God through faith in Christ, in spite of an unpayable debt you owed Him, the Father declared that, “You No Longer Owe Him Anything!” Is it not an atrocious crime to leave the presence of such amazing grace, only to circle the web pointing out other people’s debt [be they personal friend or public figure]?
Brothers and sisters, do the kingdom a favor, DROP THE ROCKS!
The world is watching closely. It is of vital kingdom importance that they know we belong to Jesus by our love for one another, and that they see our loving grace and mercy towards those who are still far from God.
May God help us!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.