Can you remember a weak moment in your life? Maybe it was a time before you knew Jesus when you were still foolish and stuck in sinful, unhealthy habits. Perhaps you were saved, but you still battled temptation, lack of self-control, anger, lust, or idolatry.
Imagine in that dark moment, when you gave in to your flesh, you were caught! Now imagine some very wise church people showing up at your house and seeing you in that moment of sin. What if they grabbed their iPhone, recorded you, and posted it online? The whole world now knows your deepest darkest sin. You know it was wrong, and they know it was wrong. But, there is no escape, no going back, no do-overs, only shame.
The biblical story in John 8 is an ancient story of a woman caught in adultery by the Pharisees. The story does not tell us how the Pharisees caught her, but their primary goal was to trap Jesus and prove that He was not following God’s holy commands. They knew they could use this woman’s sin to their advantage. So, while the woman was in the act of sinning, they took her and threw her at Jesus’ feet. They were confident this was the perfect opportunity to question Christ and show His heresy.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” Jesus gave a brilliant and beautiful reply, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
It may be pretty hard for you to put yourself in the adulterous woman’s shoes, to remember the weakest, most sinful moment of your life. I don’t think any of us like to dwell on those memories.
Instead, we like to imagine ourselves as the holy people who know the Bible and follow it. We are the Christians. We don’t do the awful sins that other people do! The problem is those holy, perfectly behaved people are the “bad guys” in this story.
I imagine a stone in my hand,
and I open my fingers and let it fall.
Lately, I have imagined myself as one of the people with a stone in my hand. I have a problem with a person who has offended me. I feel angry because I would never do what they did to me! Then, I imagine Jesus. He knows that I do have a reason to be upset. There might be a real sin that has been done to me or someone else. I see it. It is wrong. Jesus knows that there is a real reason to pick up the stone. But He tells me, “You don’t have a right to throw it.” I am a sinner too. I have a reason, but I have no right. Only God, who is without sin, has a right to judge others. And He who has a right and has a reason chooses not to condemn.
When I feel angry and offended, I picture myself letting go of whatever bothers me. I imagine a stone in my hand, and I open my fingers and let it fall. Then I walk away. I let it go and trust Jesus. He will show perfect truth and grace to that person. I cannot do it. I feel light and free when my hands are empty of heavy rocks and burden.
He tells the adulterous woman, “Go and sin no more.” He tells me, “Go and judge no more.”