One of the most popular verses in the Bible is found in Matthew 7: 1, “Judge not, or you too will be judged.” Frankly, this verse became somewhat of a cliché – one that is easily misunderstood, especially when it comes to people’s inability or unwillingness to accept constructive criticism and biblical exhortations. However, in John 8, we read the story of a woman who was caught in adultery and the scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus in order to condemn her to death. The Scribes and the Pharisees were not as interested in upholding the mosaic law as they were in trapping and accusing Jesus of breaking the law or blasphemy. It’s not too far a stretch to believe they probably planned the whole thing from the beginning, because where was the man she committed adultery with? According to the law they seemed eager to uphold, both persons involved in the act of adultery must be condemn to death (Deuteronomy 22: 22). Their primary objective was always to challenge the messiahship of Jesus Christ in front of the people and prove Him to be a fraud (John 8: 6).
Regardless, I want us to consider how Jesus dealt with the entire situation. The teachings of Christ up to that point have been about love, forgiveness, grace and compassion – teachings that challenged their understanding of the law (Matthew 5: 21 – 48) and their very way of life. Although Jesus said “I did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law” (Matt 5:17), the Jewish leaders certainly saw Him as a threat to their religious system. When the Pharisees told Jesus, “The Law of Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” Remember Jesus came to fulfill the law and not break the law; therefore, this situation presented quiet a dilemma – one that the Pharisees probably thought would turn out on their favor. However, what Jesus said next did not only dissuade the Pharisees and the crowd from their self-righteous path, but they were also “convicted in their conscience” (John 8:9) of their own imperfection and unrighteousness. Jesus said “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” Jesus wanted them to judge themselves first before judging that woman: “First, remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5). Their conviction led them to believe that they were not worthy of accusing nor condemning that woman. We too must be convicted of our own imperfection and unrighteousness before being preoccupied with someone else’s.
It is important to understand that Jesus did not approve of what the woman did, but in His name we all can be forgiven, in His name there is no condemnation (Romans 8: 1). When all the accusers walked away disappointed unable to condemn the woman per the law of Moses, Jesus addressed the woman and said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). Jesus acknowledged that the woman was guilty of what she was being accused of, but unlike the law of Moses that brought condemnation, unlike the Sadducees and the Pharisees who did nothing but accusing people and pointing out their incompetence in regard to keeping the law in order to elevate their religious status, Jesus offered that woman grace. THE LAW CONDEMNS THE BEST OF US, BUT GRACE SAVES THE WORSE OF US. Grace challenges us to live better lives (Titus 2: 11-12) that’s why Jesus said “Go and sin no more,” and it challenges us to see others through the eyes of Christ. The teachings of Christ were always meant to challenge our way of thinking, our way of life, and our views/beliefs in order to bring necessary changes to transform our lives. Jesus came not only to save us but to change us from the inside out. Only when we allow Jesus to truly transform our lives can we really understand what it means to not cast the proverbial stone at another sinner.
The Bible says in in Psalm 103: 8-12, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
May we all continue to strive to be more like Christ,