Throwing the first stone: One of the more familiar sayings in the Bible, known even to those who do not read or believe the Bible, is “If any of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” It is the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Read the passage below
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11)
Pastor and author Max Lucado described this as “aggressive grace.” It is the overwhelming, overpowering grace of God in action over sin. The law said the woman had to die. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were ready and wanting to carry out her execution. She was helpless.
She had been caught in adultery and had no rights. Women were often in poverty. If the woman was caught in adultery, what about the man she was with? Is he not equally if not more responsible? The answer is, of course, he was guilty just as she.
Women had no rights, which makes the grace of our Lord Jesus all the more powerful. It did not appear that the man was being held responsible and perhaps he thought he was getting away with his action. It was the woman who received the grace of God, the forgiveness and the cleansing.
Having been blessed in such away, she most likely obeyed His command and changed her ways. The guy received nothing. The simple question spoken by the Messiah stopped them in their tracks. The grace of God supersedes the law.
Jesus was the final arbiter of her fate. The law was necessary, as Christ himself proclaimed. He came to fulfill the law not to abolish it.
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)
Law makes us aware of right and wrong
The law had its purpose– to make us aware of sin and the point us to Jesus. God did not intend for us to use the law to commit more sin, nor did He intend for us to continue sinning just because He forgave us.
If we choose to ignore the warning, or choose to reject God’s gift of salvation, He will leave us alone and allow us to sin to our heart’s content. But it doesn’t change anything. Our sin leads to eternal separation from God, an unimaginable death.
Jesus comes meets on our level
There’s another important aspect to the story in John. Jesus made himself the lowest person in the scene. He stooped to the level of the woman, probably below her, to save her and make His point.
He came down to her level. There’s a great Gaither Vocal Band song that says it perfectly. “He came down to my level, because I couldn’t get to up to His…”
Jesus, the creator God of the Universe, came down from heaven, was born in the lowest of circumstances and grew up to be a servant.
Think about that. He left the glory of heaven to offer Himself on the cross for us. He stooped to our level. It does take two to tango. God stoops down to reach us and offer salvation. We just need to accept it.