It’s Time To Drop The Stone
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
The story of the adulteress is a powerful example of the love, mercy and forgiveness of Christ as well as an example of how we need to be with others. Yet when we look closer at this scripture we can also see two types of churches…the worldly church and the true church of Christ. If we open our eyes further, we can maybe see a bit of ourselves.
In verses 2-6, we see where Jesus came into the temple and taught the people who gathered around Him. It was here that the Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Him who was caught in the act of adultery. Who are the scribes and the Pharisees? Scribes are those who interpret and copy religious texts and in the New Testament and they are associated with the Pharisees and High Priests who are teachers with authority. The Pharisees were one of three major religious societies of Judaism at the time of the New Testament. They were religious leaders. In the story, we see that religious leaders brought the adulteress woman to Jesus and questioned Him in order to test Him to find something to accuse Him of (verse 6). One thing to notice is only the woman was brought to Jesus and not the man as the verse states she was caught “in the act” which means there was someone else involved. According to Leviticus 20:10, both are to be put to death. Scripture does not say why only the woman was brought to Christ, but some commentaries have given thoughts stemming from the man could have escaped to male-chauvinism. At this point we can only speculate.
Jesus knew the law and in no way broke the law with His answer, but what He did do is give them a view they did not look at:“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” We must remember God is all about the heart and much of Jesus teaching was about the heart and cleaning it up. Jesus answer to the Pharisees and Scribes was in no way condoning the woman’s action because she had committed a sin. In fact, he gave the woman a command “go and sin no more“. This provided her a chance to clean up her act and to get back on the right path. Yet in telling her that He is not condemning her, He was setting an example to all of the people, especially the religious leaders, of mercy, love and forgiveness which He had taught many times while He was on earth with the people. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
So how does this scripture apply to us today? It can apply in different ways. In the act of adultery, we have physical adultery which consists of a man or woman sleeping with another person’s spouse. Then there is emotional adultery/affair which consists of a spouse fantasizing about sleeping with another person or having a lustful, emotional attachment to another person which Jesus also considers adultery as we see in Matthew 5:28:
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Next, we have spiritual adultery where we put our focus on and/or idolize something or someone more than God. Sometimes we put our focus more on our worries and concerns, our spouses and families, our friends, money, technology, material possessions, work, etc. Sometimes we allow people to affect us in such a negative way that we focus on their every word and fault and not only battle with them externally but internally as well. Meaning we fight with them in our thoughts and heart. What we fail to realize is by allowing these thoughts to consume our minds and hearts, it is a strategic tactic of the enemy to remove our focus from godly thoughts and place them on ungodly thoughts which in turn causes us to stop glorifying God and instead glorify the enemy and his ways (anger, fear, fighting, etc) by participating in the ungodly act or thought. These things are the enemy’s character and not God’s character. This is why we must strive to have self-control of our emotions and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Jesus, in His great wisdom, was trying get the Scribes and Pharisees and all the people to see that not only must we show love, forgiveness and mercy to others when they commit sin, but we are to look deep within ourselves before casting that first stone of condemnation at someone else. We must not lose compassion, love and mercy. This doesn’t mean we condone another person’s sin or turn a blind eye. What it does mean is that we must not be so quick to stone another person to death when we have committed the same sin ourselves (be it physically, spiritually or emotionally) or have committed any sin for that matter. How do we stone someone to death today? Through our words and/or actions. Maybe we constantly remind them of their sin or fault or speak horribly about them to their face or to others. Or maybe we treat them differently or in a cruel way because of what they did or what bothers us about them. In other words we allow our emotions to rule us and we judge through our emotions. We may not physically pick up that stone and throw it at them but we can do it in words and/or action which can kill a person spiritually. We also must remember another teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We may not realize it, but sometimes we can be looking at another person and condemning them through two big planks in our own eyes. What this means is that we are looking at them through unclear vision (how can we see clearly if we have planks or specs obstructing our view). We must not judge when we have faults of our own. Have you ever had a speck of dust in your eye? It can be painful and cause you not to see very clearly mainly because your eyes are watering and half shut due to the pain. Sometimes we can focus on someone else’s faults through our own hurt and pain or even through our own anger which gives the enemy a useful tool to magnify the other person’s faults. The more we focus on that other person, the less we focus on God and what He wants us to do. But once we work at removing the planks and the specs from our own eyes, we remove that tool and begin to see the other person through loving, merciful and forgiving eyes.
We must be careful that we don’t become so self-righteous that we lose our love, compassion and mercy for others. The Pharisees and Scribes were big on acts and rituals…the outside of the cup, that they failed to realize that their own hearts needed cleansing…the inside of the cup. Many times it caused them to judge or act unfairly. It’s easy to point out to others what they are doing wrong but it’s not so easy to point out to ourselves and admit our own wrong doings. Correcting in love and criticizing are two different things. We see in 2 Timothy 2:24-26 it states the following:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
Take the time today to be with God and do a heart check. Ask Him to show you places where you may be judgmental or critical towards another who may be struggling in their spiritual walk or one who doesn’t have God in their life but needs Him to be. Ask Him to not only remove any planks and specs from your own eyes but to show you how to help this person draw closer to God. Remember, it doesn’t mean we condone the sin but what it does mean is that we, through love, mercy and forgiveness, correct them with love when need be and give them the same chance that was given to us by Jesus to correct it and change.