Gospel Lesson: Casting the First Stone
If you're just joining us for Gospel Lessons, here's the first in this five-part series.
Today's reading: John 8:1-11
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." – John 8:7
This week's Bible passage depicts one of the many times when the scribes and Pharisees tried to discredit Jesus, but the outcome paints a beautiful portrait of God's grace and mercy.
One morning, as Jesus was teaching in the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in adultery, a sin punishable by death under the Law of Moses. The scribes and Pharisees weren't trying to hold this woman accountable to the law as much as they were trying to trap Jesus in His teachings.
Their intentions were evident:
- If Jesus' response was casual toward the law, they would have grounds to condemn Him.
- Had Jesus condemned the woman and encouraged the stoning, the Romans could have held Him responsible for the incident.
- To fully justify the law, they should have brought the man as well, but they didn't.
- There was no trial for the woman.
Carrying a shallow righteousness, the scribes and Pharisees had no concern for the soul of the woman.
Christ's demeanor stands out in this story. Through the whole ordeal, Jesus focuses His attention on writing on the ground, as if His body language is portraying His disappointment in their misunderstanding of the purpose of the Law of Moses. (Although many speculate about what He wrote, we really do not know.)
In an unexpected response, Jesus tells the woman's accusers, "Let the person with no sin be the first to cast a stone at her." Imagine the thoughts that ran through their minds. Imagine what the woman must have thought when she realized that no stones came flying her way. After all of the scribes and Pharisees had left and Jesus was alone with the woman, He sends her on her way telling her to sin no more.
We've probably found ourselves on both sides of this story.
I'm sure we've been up against the wall in front of accusers, and we've been the ones to grab the nearest stone on the ground. That is the moment when the rough surface of our stone shows. We get offended (sometimes by something that does not even involve us) and we seek our own justification. But, in reality, we forget mercy; we forget grace; we forget forgiveness — we forget our own shortcomings. When we forget these things and grab the stone, our intentions do not coincide with the purpose of the stone.
Stones are not to bring condemnation but to provide protection, mercy, grace, and life...
Questions to think on:
- What did the stones that the scribes and Pharisees picked up mean to them?
- What did the stones mean to Jesus? What about to the woman?
- What can we do to make sure that we use our stones for the correct reasons?
This is part three of five
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.