She somberly looked down at the ground – too intimidated and utterly ashamed for the crime she had committed. She could feel their condemning eyes piercing her weary and broken spirit. Death was the only penalty for such an act against the Law. Perhaps in that moment, she wondered what brought her to this point? How had she become so entangled by the chains of sin? Perhaps she longed for mercy and the gift of a second chance.
The Pharisees stood – stones clutched in hand – prepared to deliver their verdict. But before casting the penalty, the Pharisees looked to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?” Jesus knelt down and began to write in the sand. The guilty woman awaited her imminent fate – bracing herself for impact – when a gentle voice arose and hushed her merciless accusers.
Jesus replied, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more, Jesus bent down and wrote in the sand. Slowly, one by one, the woman’s accusers dropped their stones and walked away, until only Jesus stood before the woman. Jesus said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one sir,” she replied. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:3-11).
The woman was face to face with Saving Grace. When the Pharisees were ready to stone her to death, it was the grace of Jesus that interceded.
Oftentimes, we are easily tempted to cast our own stones onto others who we believe fit the bill of deserved judgement. Perhaps the pregnant teenager we pass in the baby isle at the store – completely unfit to be a mother. Maybe the homeless man who stands by the side of the road – unkept and filthy. Or the unpolished, inappropriately dressed woman who finds her way to the front pew of church on Sunday morning.
It is so easy for us to assume our own preconceived notions about people – the teenage mom is a promiscuous and insubordinate adolescent. The homeless man is obviously nothing but a lazy drunk who is in search of a handout to fund his alcohol addiction – who refuses to work and has no one to blame for his predicament but himself. The inappropriately dressed woman in the front row is just coming off of her drug high and happened to stumble into church. She’s nothing but a distraction and will likely reject any form of truth offered to her. Surely our conclusions are without error.
But even if we assume correctly, does that give us license to cast a stone? Remember how Jesus knelt down to write in the sand? Many believe that when Jesus bent down the first time, He was writing the names and sins of the Pharisees (theory based on Jeremiah 17:13). But what did He write the second time in the sand, after the Pharisees quietly dispersed? No one really knows for sure and the Bible does not indicate as to what He wrote. Although some speculate that he simply wrote one word: FORGIVEN.
We are acting like the Pharisees, when in reality, we all are the adulterous woman. Satan stood as the accuser, declaring us guilty. Because of sin, we deserved the penalty of death. But the Cornerstone, the only One blameless from sin, withheld punishment. He interceded. Rather than casting a stone, Jesus casted grace. And His verdict? FORGIVEN.
We can conveniently stash our sins away before others can see them. We can hide behind our seemingly put together outward appearances, so it is easy for us to cast stones upon someone who appears outwardly undone. Not only do we tend to shy away from these outwardly undone people, we either inwardly or outwardly condemn them. After all, it’s always easier to point out someone else’s sin before taking a hard look into the mirror.
Maybe the pregnant teen is in deep need of guidance, not judgement. Maybe the homeless man is in search of a new opportunity, not a handout. Maybe the woman in the pew is in search for a second chance, not condemnation.
Even in spite of ourselves and need for grace, we fail to extend the love of Christ and His grace. We instead choose to cast stones of insulting assumptions, looks of disapproval, and judgmental accusations. We look upon them and perhaps feel that the last thing they deserve is grace, when grace is exactly the last thing we deserved. We cast stones without acknowledging the fact that while we are yet sinners, our Savior chose to bestow His saving grace upon us. And by His grace, we received new life – a second chance.
The Gospel would reach a lot more hearts if we were more diligent and eager to cast a helping hand, cast the Truth, cast encouragement, and cast love. But first, we must be willing to cast the very thing that determined our salvation – grace.
Maybe if we could get off our own righteous high horse and extend God’s grace to the pregnant teenager, the homeless man or the woman in the front pew, we can become less like the Pharisees and more like Christ. Jesus did not come to either condone or condemn. He came to simply save the lost. And because He bore our sin and shame, we’ve been given the undeserved gift to freely and unabashedly dance in the presence of His grace.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10
“The lost” – like the pregnant teen, the homeless man, the woman in the front pew, and you and me. Anyone who comes to Christ was formerly enslaved in sin, but became set free by amazing grace. Grace. That is the heart of our Redeemer. And that is the heart He desires to create in us. To seek and save the lost – not to push the lost out the door with our Pharisaical verdicts. He calls us to release our stones and cast grace.
The Humble Homemaker