The First Stone

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In John chapter 8 verses 1 to 11. the disciple tells us about the incident where a woman was caught in the act of adultery and brought by the Pharisees to Jesus as He was teaching the people. Such a woman, they said, must be stoned to death according to the Law. What would Jesus say? The Pharisees were trying to trick Him, of course.

Jesus' response surprised everyone. First of all, He bent forward and wrote in the dust of the ground with His finger. It was probably what we call "doodling". It's likely He did this for two reasons. The first was that He didn't want to stare at the woman, because that in itself would have seemed like an accusation and made her feel even more uncomfortable. The second was probably that He was letting some time pass so that the indignant anger would start to cool off a bit.

Eventually He straightened up and said those famous words: "Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her". At that they all began to leave, the older ones first. Obviously a man is involved in adulterous behaviour as much as a woman. Some of the Pharisees may have sinned like that! Anyway, they knew deep down in their hearts that they weren't perfect.

Then Jesus looked at the woman, standing alone now. No-one was condemning her. Jesus said "Go, but do not sin again". You can be sure that she didn't! Therefore Jesus hadn't condoned her behaviour but He forgave her by His authority as the sinless Son of God.

1 John chapter 1 verse 8: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and there is no truth in us". Romans chapter 3 verses 22 and 23: "God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all; everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence".