If you had been caught in the very act of adultery and dragged out by a crowd, you would have expected them to head for the closest city gate out of Jerusalem and the closest pile of stones. But instead you find yourself being dragged towards the Temple. Why can’t you drag me outside and get it over with?!To the Presence of God Almighty was the last place you want to be headed when you know already you are as guilty as Sin. But this particular mob was not as interested in this adulterous as they were intent on the Man who was presently at the Temple. This woman was a pawn in their scheme to discredit Jesus. They had no care for her shame nor did they even care for justice—the Law demanded the man to be taken out and stoned as well. Conveniently he had been left behind—could it have been that he was a friend or family member of one of this mob?
Force Jesus into a situation He cannot side-step. “Should we stone her, Jesus? Moses said we should.” If he answers YES then Rome can blame Him for carrying out an Illegal capital punishment under Roman law plus risk losing the title of “Friend of Sinners.” Sinners don’t need friends; they need Judges! If He answers NO then He is guilty of speaking contrary to the Law and Moses (our Hero) will stand as His judge.
The Woman is sobbing. She has not only been dragged to the Temple but now falls before Jesus who everyone knows is a Prophet. Surely He knows her sin without having to be told. HER sin which is about to condemn them both.
Her shame is multiplied as she stands in the circle of her condemners who curiously have also somehow put Jesus at the center of this circle. One looking in on the scene might have thought of a pack of wild dogs salivating for the certain kill.
Jesus ignores the pack and starts writing in the sand. Is this a stall tactic while He collects His thoughts? Does He think that He can wish them away by ignoring them? Nobody knows for sure exactly what He was writing—not sure that anybody really wanted to know!
“He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone!” The woman briefly raises her gaze wondering which one of these accusers will bend to pick up one of the many stones that lay around the Temple area; some had even carried stones with them.
But Jesus is the Same one who had said, “But I say unto you that anyone who looks at a woman with lust in his heart is already guilty of adultery!” Which one of these accusers was sinless?? Had even some of them looked at this woman in that way??
One-by-one the crowd was decimated by their own guilt. Some of the Younger ones held on wanting to still see this through to the end; but when they saw their Elders file out, they knew it was over.
The Only-One-Without-Sin looked up: “Where are your accusers?” Their exact location was no longer a concern: to accuse you have to be present! “Is there no one left to condemn you?” YOU could, Jesus. You could be my lone Stone-thrower! “Then neither do I. Go and sin no more.” The only one who could have condemned me, forgave me!
Very soon many of that same crowd would condemn the Only-One-Without-Sin. He would bear the Shame that we might all be forgiven.
Pastor Stephen Willoughby
Pastor Steve grew up in Columbia,South America, where his parents served as missionaries for 25 years. After graduating from Capital Bible Seminary, he was invited to serve as Assistant Pastor at FBCP. He has served in that capacity for twenty years before taking on the position of Senior Pastor.