No Throwing Stones
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let Him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Whenever I hear this passage of Scripture referenced, it is usually used inappropriately to justify sin. People make claims such as, “Jesus didn’t judge anyone! He said don’t throw stones and didn’t condemn her.” I also hear women complain that the Bible condones a double standard against women and they reference this passage. They’ll say, “the woman caught in adultery was going to be stoned! Where was the man who was also guilty of adultery? Why was he not held accountable?”
On the issue of the double standard, I agree that in this instance, the woman was being unfairly singled out, but I disagree that the Bible condones a double standard. The Pharisees had a double standard, not the Scriptures. The Pharisees had no intention of holding the man accountable for his role in the transgression. They said, “In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.” But when we check the law, it does not absolve a man from any guilt in a case of adultery. Leviticus 20:10 says, “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” This is repeated in Deuteronomy 22:22.
God’s law clearly does not let men off the hook when it comes to adultery. So why did the Pharisees? Well, this incident actually had less to do with a woman being caught in adultery and more to do with the Pharisees trying to collect enough evidence against Jesus to have Him arrested. They set up this scheme to trap Him. If Jesus ignored her sin, He’d be guilty of breaking the law and they’d finally have the evidence they needed. But if he condemned her to death, they’d likely report Him to the Roman officials because the Jews were not allowed to execute anyone. They thought they had Him stuck in a real dilemma.
But Jesus cannot be tricked. He saw through their schemes and hypocrisy. He upheld the law so they could not accuse Him of breaking the law. But He didn’t tell them to go ahead and stone her. Instead, He began writing on the ground. What He wrote is not known. Possibly, He wrote something that reminded them of their own guilt before a holy God - possibly passages from the Law. Regardless, after that, He told them they could only throw the stones if they were not guilty of sin themselves. They were all eventually convicted of their own sin, dropped their stones, and walked away.
What Jesus says to her after the angry mob left is very telling of Jesus’ stance on her actions. In John 8:10-11 Jesus asks her, “‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’” She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’’ Jesus called her actions what they were - sin. He also commanded that she “sin no more.” He wanted her to live a holy life obedient to God. He did not minimize her sin or offer cheap grace. Rather, He extended to her what we all so desperately need. Mercy. Grace. And forgiveness.
Jesus was not justifying sin. He was exposing it. Instead of condemning just one woman’s sin, Jesus brought to light the sins of everyone present. He pointed out everyone’s need for Him. When people say Jesus didn’t judge anyone, that is just plain wrong. Jesus judges everyone! And He made it very clear that He finds us all guilty.
As the only sinless man, He’s the only man who can judge fairly and the only one able to be a perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Jesus revealed our need for a savior and then gave His very self in our place.
The WORD about women in the story of the woman caught in adultery is that Jesus is the only righteous judge. He judges fairly without double standards or ulterior motives. He doesn’t just see our outward sinful actions but He also perceives the sinful thoughts and attitudes of our hearts and minds. Thankfully, He doesn’t condemn those of us who accept His sacrifice on our behalf. To us, He extends mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
Have you accepted Jesus’s sacrifice on behalf of your sins?
PrayJesus, You are the only righteous judge. You are right when You say that I am guilty of many sins. Thank You for Your mercy, grace, and forgiveness. You are more than good to me. Amen.