Read John 8:2-11
“We are all hypocrites in transition. I am not who I want to be, but I am on the journey there, and thankfully I am not whom I used to be.” – Erwin McManus
When we look at the Bible, we have a tendency to put ourselves in the place of Jesus. We want to be the hero of the story, and the one who does the “right thing.” If we were really honest with ourselves and with God, many of us would have to admit that a lot of the time we are more like the villains in the text than Jesus. We are more broken that we want to admit. One way that we can shield the world from our brokenness is to take on the project of the religious leaders in John 8 – throwing stones.
Throwing stones is when we take special attention to point out others’ flaws and failures with the hopes that this will divert people from seeing our own. This is an easy game to play because if you look hard enough or long enough you can always find someone whom you can perceive to be “worse” than you.
In John 8, the religious leaders have succeeded at finding a more blatant sinner than them. They have brought this adulterous woman before Jesus so that He can pass judgment on her and stone her like the law required. It is interesting that the religious leaders somehow forgot the man – who must have also been in bed with her to cause them to catch her in this sin. This makes it clear that the religious leaders could care less about the woman’s sin and its offense before a holy God. They simply wanted to condemn someone who was worse than them.
Once the dilemma is posed before Jesus, he tells the leaders that the perfect one can throw the stone first. This simple statement breaks straight to the darkness of the religious leaders hearts and the religious practice of throwing stones. They have been caught red handed by Jesus, and starting with the oldest, who likely had more years of sinning than the rest, they all walked away.
This leaves the woman looking into the eyes of Jesus – the only truly perfect person in the crowd. Jesus looks at her not with judgment or the toss of a stone but with eyes filled with divine love. He inquires about her accusers. She says that they have gone, and Jesus tells her that she is free from condemnation. This freedom gives her a new life and new identity from which she can go and sin no more.
This is a powerful picture of grace. Jesus can forgive this woman – and us – not because He is not serious about sin, but because He is willing to go to a cross to die for the penalty of that sin. This is the transformational power of the gospel. Broken people like us and this woman in John 8 can be made new by Jesus the Rescuer. This truth is why we can put down our stones.
Jesus calls us to put down our stones because when we throw stones we deny the transformational power that the gospel gives us. We deny the fact that Jesus is in the transformation business. He can change any person, situation, or story no matter how hopeless or helpless it may seem. We can also put down the stones because according to Jesus only perfect people can throw stones, and the only perfect Person died on a cross to take the stoning that each of us deserved.
Lord Jesus, Show me the people in my life that I am throwing stones toward. Help me to realize that Your gospel is a story of rescue for all people – not just me. Help me to live in love towards others because I have been rescued by you. Amen.
Thought for the Day
Those who throw stones have forgotten how it feels to be broken.