Monday, February 27, 2012

A Morning Cup of Tea: Cast the First Stone

 Good morning! Today we are beginning chapter 8 of John, verses one through twelve. Jesus had come once again to the temple, and had begun to teach. The scribes and Pharisees came to him with a woman in their custody. 
  The scribes and Pharisees announced to Jesus that the woman had been committing adultery; had been caught in the very act, they said. The law of Moses said quite clearly that she should be stone, but what does Jesus have to say about this?
  Obviously they wanted him to say something contrary to the law of Moses so they could do away with him. Jesus knew this too. He bent over and began writing in the dirt with his finger as if he hadn't heard the men. Then he stood up and said He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And he began to write on the ground again.
  They who had heard this, one by one, oldest to youngest, began to leave. Finally there was only Jesus and the woman left. Jesus asked the woman, Where are your accusers, are there any here? She of course answered, No man. He said Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.

 I've wondered at times what Jesus wrote in the dirt that day. Was he just doodling? Perhaps he was writing a list of things he needed to do in the coming days. Or maybe he was writing some of the sins that her accusers had done? I've also wondered, where is the man with whom she was sinning? Had they already punished him, or was he part of the trap set for Jesus and therefore was there with the other men, or set free?  You know what? The answers to those two questions won't be answered here, and in the long run, neither matter. 
  To her accusers he gave them permission to stone her, but the one who was without sin should cast the first stone. All of them knew what they had done, and they felt the guilt of it so they left. End of story? Not quite.
  Some would like to use this account to teach or believe that we should not judge others. But pay attention here. Jesus did not tell her she was not guilty of adultery, nor did he say it was no one's business that she had done this. According to the law she could have been stoned to death.  She and Jesus both knew she was guilty of that. He simply did not condemn her to death. He told her, Go, and sin no more.
  Sometimes we get caught up in at thinking how good we are, while looking at someone who has done wrong. Not one of us is perfect; we all sin, whether stumbling into it in daily life or deliberately choosing to do what we know to be sinful. This does not mean we should not talk to a brother or sister about a sin, it's just that we need to check our attitude and also make sure that we aren't ready to discuss her dirty front porch when our whole house could use a good spring cleaning. The scribes and Pharisees weren't wanting to discuss this woman's sins in love and concern for her, they just wanted Jesus to say something that went against their teaching. They chose an adulteress as bait most likely because that was such a horrible sin and surely none of them would ever do something like that! They had forgotten for a moment that they too sin. 
 Have a great day.   

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