I sat across the table from a broken friend. Her life was scattered on the coffee shop floor like spilled grounds from the bean machine. Melissa (not her real name) had had an affair, and she finally mustered up the courage to tell me the truth. I knew about some of it, but not all of it. The new details were shocking. Now, what was I going to do with that?
My mind went back to the scene when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to where Jesus was teaching a crowd.
It was a set up. No doubt about it. The religious leaders had burst into the woman’s home, caught her in the act, and dragged her half-dressed to Jesus. The man she was with, well, they didn’t bother with him.
As they slung her at Jesus’ feet, they posed a question. “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say? (John 8:5). To those looking on, it might appear that Jesus was caught between a rock and a hard place. But they didn’t realize that since Jesus is the Rock, there is no hard place He can’t handle.
I’m sure it threw them off a bit when Jesus stooped to write in the dirt. Finally, he answered.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).
Jesus uncovered their own hearts and left them exposed and spiritually naked before the crowd. Each man standing knew his own life was riddled with sin. The prophet Isaiah, whose writings they knew very well, wrote: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6). For a man to throw a stone and thus imply that he was without sin would have been the greatest heresy of all.
Isn’t it interesting that the only person qualified to throw a stone at the woman is the One who set her free?
It’s easy to smirk at those self-righteous, pious Pharisees and say, “Ha! Take that!” But what about you and me? When was the last time we threw a stone at someone? Maybe not a literal stone, but a stone-hard judgmental attitude tossed someone’s way? Even the smallest stone is too heavy for us to carry.
The Pharisees brought the woman to be condemned, but Jesus freed her by extending grace. The accusers came to Jesus in self-righteous superiority, but they skulked away in self-defeated shame. The religious leaders put her down like dirt. Jesus looked at her with compassion and lifted her out of it. The accusers became the accused. They came feeling “more than,” but that’s not how they left.
The woman caught in adultery stood before Jesus in disgrace but was met with divine grace.
Even though there was a crowd watching, Jesus zoomed in on one hurting soul that needed His attention. One woman who felt less than because of her past mistakes and failures…just like you and me.
Maybe you haven’t been caught in the act of adultery. Maybe you have. But we all have pages of our stories that we’d like to rip out, sentences we’d like to block out, and chapters we’d like throw out. Know this sister: The splinter of your story that you hate the most does not define the entire narrative…no matter how bad it is. You are more than your worst pages. Why? Because of grace. Click & Tweet!
My friend Melissa was heartbroken over her sin, and so was I. But I had to wonder, am I as heartbroken over my own sin? My sins may be different, but they are still sins. Your sins may be different, but they are still sins. And guess what. God’s forgiving grace is greater than all of it.
Melissa asked God to forgive her, and He responded with grace. It’s the same with you and me. John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
When it comes to God’s forgiveness…His is the stone not thrown. That’s the kind of grace that I want to extend to others. I think you do, too.
Jesus, thank You for Your forgiving grace that takes our place. Help me to extend the same mercy to others that You have extended to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Are you holding any rocks in your hand right now? If so, what do you need to do with it?
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