There was a woman caught in adultery, and there was no doubt she had been caught in adultery. People were judging her harshly. They were standing up and being heard!! They were all wanting to throw rocks at her. Yes, she was guilty, and she was going to have to pay!! After all, she had been downright bad!! It was like a lynch mob from the old American west. It was like the Ku Klux Klan descending on some innocent black man and stringing him up because he had the audacity of being black. It was like a pack of wolves descending on their victim. It was like the crowd who came to get Christ to crucify him. This woman had the audacity of committing adultery!! And people were going to do something about it!!
They all picked up rocks and had her backing into a corner. People really can kill others by throwing even just one rock, but they were going to throw many rocks! They were going to guarantee the sin was punished! That is exactly what they intended to do. They were going to be righteous and purge the world of this woman’s wickedness! How dare she sin! She didn’t deserve to live!!
Jesus walks up into the situation. He sees all the rocks and the scared woman. He asks the people what they are doing, and they start spouting off about how terrible the woman is. Jesus said, “Okay. You guys want to throw rocks at her. You can. I want the one who has never sinned to throw the first rock.”
The people look at one another. Each one knows his own sin. One man knows he has lied. Another man knows he has chased a woman who wasn’t his wife. Another realizes that he hit his child too hard once, and vowed to never do it again. Another man had gotten drunk once, or maybe twice. One realizes they had been gossiping. Each sin was a bit different, and there was a sin and maybe more represented in every person. They didn’t discuss their sins, but because Jesus told them the one without sin could throw the first rock, they all began thinking about mistakes they had made. They looked around. Who was worthy to throw that first rock? Who was going to start the process of killing this terrible sinner? The man who had chased a woman who wasn’t his wife realized he might of gotten to the point of adultery had the woman not turned him down, so he put his rock down. The one who hit his child too hard realized he was about to do the same to another human being. The one who had gotten drunk twice realized he had sinned more than once, and he put his rock down. They just began putting their rocks down one by one and leaving, walking slowly with their heads deep in thought until every one of them was gone.
Jesus was still standing there with the woman after they left. He looks up at the woman and says, “Where are your accusers?” She was stunned! She responds, “They are… all gone…” Jesus says, “I am not going to throw any rocks. I am not your accuser. However, this doesn’t mean I approve of what you did. Go, and sin no more.” The grateful woman was so relieved! She thanked him and hurried away.
Was she punished enough? Did Jesus punish her? Did the people go back later and try to hurt her again? Was Jesus too lenient? Did the people descend on Jesus and treat him badly because he clearly didn’t want to see her killed? Are we truly judges? Do we really need to stand up and be heard? Do we need to cause trouble? What would Jesus do?