“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 8:1-11 (MSG)
When you are upset at someone, do you find yourself giving only a second chance then calling it quits? We start wondering why the person won’t change. If that person had just changed, then they wouldn’t need our forgiveness. If that person had just listened to our advice, they wouldn’t be in that mess. We give second chances, then we start running out. We give second and maybe third chances, but thankfully, Jesus gives us something more.
As Jesus was teaching the people, the religious leaders found a woman caught in adultery and brought her to Jesus. Instead of wanting Jesus’ actual response, they were trying to create a trap where they could later condemn Jesus for his decision. She stood condemned, staring at the ground in front of a crowd of people. As the religious leaders were collecting their stones and shaking their fists, Jesus was more concerned with the heart of the issue. In Jesus’ response, he calls for the person with no sin to throw the first stone. The oldest religious leaders began to recount their best days and worst days; the stone slowly slipped from their hands and made a thud on the ground. They couldn’t throw the stone. The younger religious leaders were probably surprised by their elders backing away from the challenge. Then, as they examined their lives with their chest puffed out in pride, they slowly began to realize that they were not sinless. The only person left standing was Jesus. And Jesus gave the woman caught in adultery something for which she didn’t even ask: grace. And with that grace in her heart, Jesus bid her to go and sin no more. Grace has a way of changing our lives if we receive it. We can’t earn grace; we can only receive it and allow God’s grace to radically change our hearts. But, too many times, we are too busy standing around collecting stones. Your spouse does something that you despise; one more stone goes into your pocket. Your best friend keeps breaking their promise to you; one more stone goes into your pocket. What we end up having is a pocket full of rocks, an arsenal in our bag that is ready to condemn and point the finger. I don’t know what Jesus was writing in the dirt that day, but it would seem that the words would somehow spell out grace. For we have all sinned and are worthy of condemnation. But Jesus is the only one left standing there, inviting us into a new life with him. Oh that we might turn from our sin and walk in his unmerited grace. And the act of receiving grace that we don’t deserve allows us to drop the stones and give grace. Let’s empty our pockets full of rocks and lean into the grace of God that we might be able to extend it to others.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.