“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the act of adultery. John’s account explicitly states that they had caught her in the act. So where was the man? Why did they not bring him too? The Law of Moses commanded that the penalty for adultery was death by stoning for both parties in the illicit union (Leviticus 20:10). This gives us a clear indication as to the intent of the religious leaders. They were not looking for justice to be done; the text tells us they were trying to trap Jesus, “in order to have a basis for accusing him” (John 8:6).
So what did Jesus do? He stooped to write something on the ground — not once, but twice during this encounter. The text does not reveal what Jesus wrote, and this is the only place in Scripture where we see Jesus writing anything. But it just might be that Jesus was writing out the names of those holding the stones and their hidden sins, sins known only to our all-seeing, all-knowing God.
After Jesus invited “any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” and wrote on the ground with His finger, “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” (John 8:9). The older ones dropping their stones and leaving first seems to suggest that the wisdom of their age helped them understand the Lord’s message. They recognized that Jesus could have exposed the depths of the depravity lurking in each of their hearts.
Question: Was there anyone without sin in that group? Yes, of course! It was Jesus. Only Jesus had the right to pass ultimate judgment. Every one of us is a sinner in moment-by-moment need of a Savior, and so we are to leave judgment to the One who judges justly. When we judge others, we grieve the Holy Spirit and give the devil a foothold in our lives. We all must stop slinging stones – stones of gossip, slander, judgment, anger, etc. – in our minds, in our words, and in our behavior.
Remember, the greater our devotion to Jesus, the better we become at dropping our stones. So let us draw near to the Lord and love one another, for love comes from God (1 John 4:8).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!