June 16

John 8:3-4, 7 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

Verses 1-11 of John chapter 8 are not found in some of the earliest manuscripts, but it is included in one and a space was left for it in two others. Augustine suggests that it was left out of some because "they were of slight faith" and "to avoid a scandal." If we look at the text carefully, we find it was the Pharisees who were scandalous. They seem to be trying to trap Jesus in His loving attitude toward sinners. Jealous of the crowds Jesus drew, they were seeking for some way to show that He did not adhere to the Law that God had given through Moses. In doing so they broke the Law. The Law demanded both the man and the woman be dealt with. Where was the man? If they caught her in the act, they must have caught the man also. Was he in on their scheme?

When they questioned Jesus, He bent over and began to write on the ground. The Greek word used for "write" is better translated "to write against." Perhaps He was writing down the sins they had committed and their need of mercy. When He was pushed to act, He suggested that the one who was without sin cast the first stone. If you are going to start judging others, make sure you are right with God and not in need of mercy yourself. Stones dropped to the ground as they left, one by one, from the oldest to the youngest.

It was not that Jesus had compromised the Law. In fact, He made it even stricter by saying that even looking on a woman with lust was an act of adultery. Then He told the woman He did not accuse her either. He was the only one there who could have thrown a stone at her or at us. Instead He offered her hope. "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin." When forgiveness is offered, there is also the expectation of a change in lifestyle. This is not a story of compromise but of the grace and mercy we all need, and the expectation of a transformed life.

Consider: We are all sinners saved by grace. That should affect the way we treat others caught in sin.