Daniel 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62; John 8:1-11
‘If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’
This episode has all the markings of a farce, pre-meditated and enacted by Jesus’ enemies. Their aim obviously, was not to stone the woman, but to stone Jesus in some way. She was not the real accused, but he. He was getting on their nerves, and they wanted revenge. Hence, they arrange for a woman, probably a prostitute, to act out her part for a fee. That is probably why there is no man, ‘caught in the very act of adultery’! They march towards him early in the morning, leaving all their jobs, with stones ready in hand! With one look at the woman and his accusers Jesus understood the trap that was being set for him.
A great sense of pity swelled up in his heart, both for the Pharisees and for the woman. He did not want to shame them because he was above that kind of revenge. By scribbling on the floor, he bought some time to plan a graceful way out, without hurting anyone. Finally, he smiled pleasantly and said: “Let the one without sin begin the stoning!”
With that single stone, he hit three fruits! The Pharisees and the sinful woman were completely floored by that wise exit he created for them from the dilemma. Their deception was not exposed openly, and he too came clear from their trap. That became the moment of conversion for many of them. The Pharisees dropped the stones, and the woman was feeling like a worm for having been part of this. She looked at him, waiting for judgement. “No, no, I do not condemn you either. Go in peace.” She felt more ashamed for having agreed to endanger this lovely man, than for her adulterous life itself. This kind of fraudulence was worse than sins of sexual weakness. She was a different person from that day.
If there is anyone who forgives us gracefully, without shaming us and pointing out our sinfulness, it is only the Lord, and his saints!