A mere stone, yet a symbol of radical Love.
To Throw the Stone
Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
– John 8 –
Often I wonder, “Would this have worked about better if I hadn’t made that mistake? If I hadn’t screwed up and sinned?” I ask myself, “Is this God’s way of getting angry at me for sinning?”
But at church this weekend, the pastor told the story of this woman caught in adultery. Everyone around longs to reprimand this woman, longs to expose her. I can only imagine her shame. Naked, caught in the act of sexual sin. I can only imagine the pain and hurt in her heart as she stands before the crowd, before Jesus – in complete shame. I can imagine the thoughts running through her mind as she picks away at herself for screwing up, and as she starts to recall and count the past years of sin she has been stuck in. As she feels that deep, deep hurt in her heart wishing she could rewind and fix her mistake. I can imagine her face, staring at the ground hearing the crowd ask Jesus what should be done with her. Ready to face the consequences, her heart sinks again and her eyes remain closed.
I wonder what she felt as she heard Jesus’ soft voice say “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone”. One by one as the crowd left, maybe her eyes momentarily rose up as the crowd grew silently smaller.
Suddenly she realizes that she is one on one with Jesus. The proclaimed Messiah. Here she is in the presence of the only one who is completely without sin. Her heart must have been beating louder than the crowd had been shouting. Maybe she looked up, maybe she didn’t. She may have never been shown what real love looks like, she may have been tossed around her entire life – looking for a way to fill the void within her heart. And at the feet and mercy of Jesus – she found it. She found real, radical love.
I know that there have been days where I have been in a similar situation. Filled with shame of what I have said or done, and not wanting to face Jesus, to look into His eyes.
This story reminds me of this fact:
Jesus could have thrown a stone.
But our God is the God of grace.
I forget this all too often. For some reason, it took me being called back into this story to realize that when I mess up, God doesn’t turn His face away. He doesn’t change my future because of what I have done in the past. Instead, He looks at me and says, “I will not condemn you. Go on your way, but my child – don’t sin”.
Our God doesn’t throw the stone, He loves us instead. Our God is the God of grace.
Simple as that. Radical Love.