JOHN 8:7-12: “So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: Do I really want to throw that stone? Recently the news has been filled with mounting allegations of misconduct against a multitude of high profile individuals in both the entertainment and political field. It is easy to rise up and take sides and pick up stones to cast at the individuals we deplore the most. However, we might want to pause a moment before we cast that first stone.
There is one thing I have learned about throwing stones – no one wins! It blurs the lines of mercy and of justice. And it blinds us to our own sin, by clothing us in a false sense of self righteousness. This is not to say that crime should not be punished. However, we have seen what happens when even law enforcement forgets the principal of mercy in justice. The result is a sort of vigilante justice that lacks both.
This is exactly the situation Jesus found himself in when he came upon the woman caught in adultery. Her accusers had already passed sentence – without a proper trial, and without mercy. When Jesus came upon this situation, He stooped down and began writing in the dirt. There is no Biblical text that tells us what He was writing, but when He paused He said – “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Jesus then resumed writing in the dirt. What happened? One by one her accusers dropped their stones and walked away.
Many have postulated that Jesus was writing their sins in the dirt, or perhaps names of those who stood around the woman accused, who had also sinned with her. Whatever it was, it was enough to bring them to conviction and cause them to drop their stones. I think we need to take a moment to ponder this before we are quick to throw stones.
Mercy with justice is misguided love.
Justice without mercy is misguided cruelty.
We need mercy and justice working together.
Before I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord, I did not have the capacity to extend mercy. I could show mercy selectively to those I wanted to, or those I liked. However, to extend mercy toward someone I viewed as an enemy was not even in my radar. Yet, that is exactly what God has done for each one of us through Jesus Christ!
- “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NKJV)
We deserved justice for our sin. God sent His Son to extend His mercy. We were positioned as enemies against God. God sent His Son to position us as sons and daughters of God through faith. Paul was a zealous Pharisee who took pleasure in imprisoning Christians and witnessing their death. Yet, God extended His mercy to Paul on the road to Damascus and redeemed his life. When we forget to walk in the mercy of God, we always end up perverting the justice of God.
Our justice system was established upon Biblical values. One tenant of these values that is a hallmark of our justice system is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This is where mercy precedes justice and judgment. When we we pass judgment, even before we have all the facts, and pick up our stones – we all lose. There is not one person alive who does not desperately need mercy. It is time to throw down our stones and put mercy before judgment. It is time to look to our own hearts before condemning the hearts of others!
Lord, in this day of anger and rancor, help me to walk in Your mercy.
Lord, help me to thrown down my stones.
In Jesus Name!