I’m starting to see that the story of the woman caught in adultery is one of the most influential stories in the bible…at least to me. It has been a story that has always caused people to reflect on themselves, putting themselves in the place of the stone throwers. This is always good. We need to critique ourselves. We need to be honest with ourselves to the point that we become better at being kind to others….wanting what’s best for others. It’s the whole body that thrives as we share each others burdens that makes this all work. When we make it all about how righteous we are, how well I obey God, or that we are going to heaven when we die, then we make it very exclusive and we shun those who are on the outside. We see crazy examples like Westboro Baptist that show how our doctrines can actually destroy others through righteous exclusivity. If you go to a church out of obedience to God, that’s where it can start. That “I’m righteous because I’m obedient” attitude grows in us when it’s fed by the pastors that enable it from the pulpit. This is what we must critique in ourselves…the ability to exclude which tears us from the body. Our ability to want to pick up the stone and throw it is real…our obedience to our doctrines justifies the cutting off of another from the body. We feel vindicated to cut the branch off the vine in the name of God….as if God is demanding it. But God is not!
On the contrary, Jesus has shown us that the sin in the life of the woman has already been dealt with. It has been dealt with in the very heart of Jesus as he will not accuse her anymore than she has already been honest with herself about. In addition, Jesus sees the hypocrisy of those wanting to throw the stones. He is standing up for the oppressed and saving the life of the woman.
The most amazing thing though, is that Jesus is declaring to the woman that I will not accuse you. He will not partake in the satanic mechanism and use God to justify it. Paul takes this message in Romans 1 and 2 and drives it home by saying…”Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things”. We throw the stones, yet we are guilty just the same. Jesus is different. Romans 8: 1 says…”So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”. Our quick jump to think this means missing the wrath of God and not going to hell is a misstep. To see Paul saying, those who act like Jesus and do not judge your neighbor but instead forgive them, is rightly understanding this verse.
Jesus is showing the true nature of the Father by demonstrating that her sin was already forgiven before it even happened. God does not accuse us but has already viewed us in Love before we did anything in this world. It is this Love that Jesus looks at the woman and has compassion and understanding. He contributes to her life by causing those who want to murder in the name God to reconsider their ego….and that they are no different than her.
We need to put down our stones…..which can be religions, denominations, churches, our dogmatic understanding…. and see those around us for who they are. They are just like you…forgiven regardless of what they have done. For whatever law you use to pronounce their guilt, you have broken that law just the same. Jesus sees this and gives away life to all people. May we all go and do likewise.