“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
—John 8:4-8 NLT
The Old Covenant, the Law of Moses, called for stoning to death for this woman caught in adultery. But Jesus didn’t look on that woman who sinned through the eyes of the law. He looked upon her with love that was ready to give His life for her. The Pharisees surrounding this woman demanded that the Law of Moses be satisfied by stoning her to death. He knew these men were there to ambush Him. They hadn’t even brought the man caught in the act with her. But the soul of this woman was precious to Jesus. He looked beyond her sin and saw her need. The law would only be satisfied with the gift of His life. Only His grace could set her free.
The Pharisees did not understand Jesus had come to not only set the woman free but to set their hearts free from judgment and hatred that consumed them. Jesus listened to their accusations and stooped down to write something in the dust with his finger. No one knows what He wrote. Last night Chris Russell suggested that Jesus might have written their secret sins for each Pharisee to see. Their hatred and their demand for retribution were not going to be satisfied according to the law. Chris also pointed out they might have had the right according to the law to stone this woman, but Jesus was there to take away their ability to do it.
In one moment, Jesus directed their hatred and retribution away from the woman caught in sin. He asked them to look at the state of their own hearts. If they had no sin, then they could stone her. In that one question, Jesus spoke the reason He had been born—not to condemn but to save the world from sin. The law would only be satisfied by His love written on the human heart. The Pharisees knew no one was perfect. Perhaps, Jesus had reminded them by writing their sins in the dust.
With the state of their hearts revealed, the woman's accusers are suddenly gone. Jesus looks at the woman and asks her where her accusers are. No one is there demanding and calling for her death. “Go and sin no more,” He whispers. The end she expected had been replaced by life. The statement to "go and sin no more" was also for her accusers who, after exposure and shame, could not remain in Jesus’ presence. When we understand the gift He has given us, His grace replaces our need to judge others. Throwing stones kill grace. Only the unconditional love of Jesus gives life to grace.
“Do not judge,” Jesus said in Matthew 7: 1-2, “and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others.” Never throw stones. The judgment that consumes our hearts returns to stone us. Jesus writes—not in the dust—but upon our hearts, setting us free from the need to judge and accuse and be right. Jesus revealed the imperfections of the Pharisees, and if we allow, He sets us free to not judge and be right about everything. When we continually expose someone else, we expose ourselves.
“I will give you a new heart,” Jesus writes in the dust, “and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT). You can't throw a stony heart of stone that Jesus has turned to dust. You no longer need to do it. You just don't have the ability.
© 2020 Lynn Lacher