Topic: Within a Stone’s Throw (September 29, 2016)
Read: John 7:53–8:11
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 7–8; Ephesians 2
Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. John 8:7
As a group of religious leaders herded an adulterous woman toward Jesus, they couldn’t know they were carrying her within a stone’s throw of grace. Their hope was to discredit Him. If He told them to let the woman go, they could claim He was breaking Mosaic law. But if He condemned her to death, the crowds following Him would have dismissed His words of mercy and grace.
But Jesus turned the tables on the accusers. Scripture says that rather than answering them directly, He started writing on the ground. When the leaders continued to question Him, He invited any of them who had never sinned to throw the first stone, and then He started writing on the ground again. The next time He looked up, all the accusers were gone.
Now the only person who could have thrown a stone—the only sinless one—looked at the woman and gave her mercy. “ ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’ ” (John 8:11).
Whether today finds you needing forgiveness for judging others or desiring assurance that no sin is beyond His grace, be encouraged by this: No one is throwing stones today; go and be changed by God’s mercy.
Prayer: Father, cleanse me of my judging nature and free me from the bonds of sin. Let me taste Your mercy and then help me to live a changed life.
Insight: In today’s reading, a dramatic scene unfolds. As Jesus taught in the temple courts a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him. The legalists wanted to test His response to this flagrant act of sin. They knew the law demanded the death penalty and wanted to place Christ in a double bind between merciful forgiveness and literal obedience to the law. When confronted with this guilty woman, Jesus did the unexpected: He knelt and wrote something in the sand. His statement—“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7)—turned the tide of public opinion. The sinful heart of the accusers caused them to leave one by one.