On Throwing Stones

John’s gospel tells this story:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the groupand said to Jesus, “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?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (vs. 8:3-7)

Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “Let any one of you who is without that sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Do we sometimes behave as if he did say that?  I think so.

We do a good (not necessarily great) job of restraining ourselves from throwing stones at people whose sin was like ours or less than ours.  We don’t have the same restraint when it comes to  those who sinned more than us or differently than us.

A prideful person who practices sexual purity wouldn’t throw stones at someone else struggling with pride but can be found throwing stones at adulterers and fornincators.  An unforgiving person who wouldn’t dream of throwing stones at someone else struggling with forgiveness  is winding up to hurl a rock at a lying cheat.  A lady wearing designer clothes that cost enough to feed a third-world village stands ready to throw stones at another woman with a neckline too low and skirt hem too high…

But of course, Jesus didn’t say “without that sin.”  He simply said, “without sin.”

I think we all need to drop the stones we may have picked up.


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