And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said unto Him, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned but what sayest thou?” This they said testing Him, that they might have cause to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the eldest even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst.When Jesus had lifted Himself up and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?”She said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.”
I’m sure most people have at least a passing familiarity with this story, or at least the quote, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” This phrase oten is used as a default attack, or at least deflection, when someone brings up another’s sinful behavior (along with the splinter/plank quote, which I will discuss another time).
However, the user of the phrase, and usually the person at whom the phrase is thrown, accept the phrase as meaning something it doesn’t.
Jesus tells us that the second GREAT commandment is, “love your neighbor as yourself”. What does that have to do with this? Well, the Scribes and Pharisees didn’t come in love, they came to test. Granted, they found an adultress, of course, they seem to have, shall we say, disregarded the adulterer, which is a contradiction. The Scribes and Pharisees didn’t bring her to Jesus out of love of God, God’s love, or love in anyway shape and form.
As for the stone (or rock), Jesus was telling them that they should indeed mete out punishment for her sin, but only if they were sinless. At least, to give the Scribes and Pharisees credit, they acknowleged they weren’t without sin. However, I would like to point out that had they just finished the scapegoat aspect of sin forgiveness, they would have been sinless according to the law, so perhaps the “without sin” part is not quite what it seems.
Now onto Jesus’ last statement, “neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.” Again, when taken into context, this statement is not what it seems at first blush. The comdemn in this statement refers to condemning the adultress to death. In other words, tossing the rocks at her until she dies.
However, Jesus doesn’t forgive her, which I find quite interesting. Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus seems to just toss forgiveness around, but not here. I wonder if that tells us something about God’s view of adultery, perhaps it won’t be forgiven by God unless the agreived parties (those whose trust the adulteress and adulterer betrayed) forgive them first. I digress.
Jesus tells her to “sin no more”. This implies the fact of her sin. Jesus convicts her of her sin. He tell her not to do it again.
Where does that leave us? I believe that if a person is guilty of sin, they should be reprimanded. “Go and sin no more.” In fact, Paul actually provides a methodology to confront a person with their sin, but it is specifically aimed at members of the Christian church. Another aside is the Ted Haggard fall. As is beginning to come out, many people within his church knew there were issues (no one has admitted, as far as I know, that they knew of Haggert’s homosexual proclivities). They should have dealt with this. Back to the blog entry at hand.
So what are we, as Christians, to do with people outside the church? First, we must love them. How can we show that Jesus Christ is worthy of their love, if they do not experience the love of Christ? There, of course, is the issue of people feeling unloved because a person says their behavior is bad, and, frankly, there little one can do with how they feel about what is said. One can be gentle about it, but not too gentle. If one is too gentle, they will be ignored. I am also flatly against people hating. Of course, there is not an insiginificant portion of the population that says I/we hate them because I/we believe that what they do is wrong. I do not hate them. I’m not sure that I hate anyone.
If we truly believe what we say we believe, then we must say something.