Gospel Lesson: Casting the First Stone

Written by Brother Ben Hemmings on Thursday, October 23, 2014. Posted in Scripture Study

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?

Next week's reading: Exodus 17:1-6 and Numbers 20:2-13

This is part three of five

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Comments (1)

  • Josh


    23 October 2014 at 08:16 |
    Great article, Ben!

    Bro Ron G in my region brought out a great point on this scripture in a sermon. For the Jews to properly accuse the woman, they needed 3 witnesses in order to condemn to death according to the law. See Deut 19:15

    The Lord perfectly poses a question where all the accusers leave. With no accusers, there can be no condemnation. Jesus perfectly obeyed the Law of Moses and escaped the 'trap' that day.


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