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Day 13

… 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, “Let any one of you who is without sin 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. 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

The woman who is brought by the religious leaders to be stoned had disregarded their own law. The law required the man to be brought as well. The leaders were using this woman to trick Jesus. If Jesus said the woman should not be stoned; they would accuse him of violating Moses’ law. If he urged them to execute her, they would report him to the Romans, who did not permit the Jews to carry out their own executions.

But Jesus turned it around. He was making a big statement about judging others. Because he upheld the penalty for stoning, he could not be accused of being against the law. BUT by saying that only a sinless person could throw the first stone, he highlighted the importance of compassion and forgiveness. He was saying here that it is God’s role to judge, not ours. It was unclear what Jesus was writing in the dirt, but the leaders recognized their own sin and fled the scene.

Jesus didn’t condemn the woman nor did he ignore her sin. He told her to stop sinning.

Questions to ponder:

  • What sins do we tend to categorize as “big” sins (those that are worse than all others)? Which sins do you think God classifies as “big” sins?
  • How do we tend to treat people who fall into one of the “big” sins?
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