By David Rayner
Speical to The Guardian
Have you ever noticed that there seems to be an instinct within us to throw stones?
From an early age, a child seems to find pleasure in grabbing handfuls of stones, giggling as they watch the little projectiles bounce off of the driveway, lamp post, the side of your car, your shins or the cat. I remember my dad making a slingshot for me from a branch in the shape of a “Y” and a piece of rubber inner tube. It was cool, and I could make stones fly with it!
One day when Jesus was in the Temple Courts teaching the people, the Pharisees, who were looking for an opportunity to trap Jesus, dragged a woman caught in the act of adultery, shoved her at Jesus’ feet and asked him what they should do with her. Now, the custom of the day said she should be stoned for her act, and so the Pharisees were hoping Jesus would tell them to stone her. If he did, the people would question his teachings on love and compassion. And if Jesus said let her go, then the Pharisees could have him stoned as well for inciting people to disobey the law. Figuring they had Jesus between a rock and a hard place, they waited his response.
Scripture tells us that following the question, Jesus stooped and wrote in the dirt. After being asked several times to answer them, Jesus rose and said to the Pharisees, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. John 8:1-11 records this encounter, and tells us that the accusers simply dropped their stones and walked away as Jesus once again stooped to write in the dirt. After they had all left, Jesus rose and asked the woman “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir”. She said. “Then neither do I condemn you, go and leave your life of sin”. Jesus told her.
You can almost sense the quietness of the crowd as they witnessed this exchange between Jesus and the Religious Leaders. They heard Jesus respond in a way that made the proud Pharisees realize that they had been ‘put in their place’ and had no other option but to walk away. What I find so amazing is that Jesus was the only one who could have actually cast a stone at the woman. Only Jesus was without sin, and as the perfect God himself, he could have rightly judged her and condemned her to death. But instead he gave her what each and every one of us needs, a second chance. Telling her to “Go now, and leave your life of sin”.
People are so quick to throw stones at others — eager to draw attention to and condemn others publically for their sin, and deep inside hoping, even praying that no one will not notice the sin in their lives. We are all guilty and deserve to be condemned for our sin. Every day our sin throws us at Jesus’ feet, condemning us of our guilt, and in our sorrow, shame and repentance, Jesus responds by lifting us up and telling us to go and leave our life of sin.
As believers in Jesus Christ, our hope is in knowing that each time we acknowledge the sin we have committed, and each time we seek His forgiveness, the grace of Christ gives us joy in knowing that He is covering the penalty for our sin, with his sin-less-ness. This forgiveness is ours to receive only if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Only if we repent of our sin, and truly desire to live our life obedient to the life Jesus calls of His people to live.
I pray every day that I will not be a thrower of stones, but that God will create in me a heart of thanks giving to Jesus Christ for his sacrifice and for taking upon himself my sin’s penalty price.
David Rayner is with Connection Point Christian Church with weekly meetings at the Steele Recital Hall on the UPEI Campus. A guest sermon runs regularly in Saturday’s Guardian and is provided through Christian Communications.