By Chris Morris . . . “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”
These were Jesus’ words in response to the Pharisees in their desire to punish an adulterous woman while simultaneously discrediting Him.
Here’s the thing, though. Technically, Jesus was obligated to condone the stoning of the adulterous woman. Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 both delineate the God-given consequences for committing adultery. Why doesn’t he do so?
The story is told of a 3rd grade class on the first day of school. The bell rang to begin the day and students began to file into the classroom. One student was a very nervous girl. She was quiet and her limbs were trembling with anxiety. She found a seat in the back of the classroom. A few moments later, another student walked confidently into the classroom and sat down next to the nervous girl. After a quick glance at the girl and her desk, this boy suddenly ran out of the room, only to return with a large cup of water. The boy took the cup of water and doused the nervous girl.
The teacher immediately called the boy up to her desk and asked him why he did such a cruel thing. The boy remained silent. After several more unsuccessful inquiries, the boy was sent to the principal’s office. Ultimately, he was suspended from school for three days for his actions.
When the boy returned to school, his teacher paid close attention to his behavior. To her surprise, over the next few months, this boy was a model student. His grades were exceptional. He would volunteer to help the teacher at every opportunity. He would even model conflict resolution skills on the playground when other students had arguments or fights.
One day, the teacher could no longer quiet her curiosity. She called this boy to her desk and asked him why he did what he did on the first day of school. The boy dropped his head, slumped his shoulders, and remained quiet. The teacher assured him that he had already paid the penalty for the terrible behavior and that he would not receive another punishment. The boy shared with the teacher that he had noticed how nervous the girl who sat next to him was on the first day of school. In fact, he noticed she was so nervous that there was a puddle of urine underneath her desk. The girl had so much anxiety that she didn’t make it to the restroom. The boy stated that he knew this girl would be made fun of by the other students if they saw what he saw. So, he decided to run out of the classroom, grab a cup of water, and douse the girl. The teacher was astonished. The boy was willing to take the punishment for pouring water on the girl so that she would not be the target of mockery and ridicule.
Jesus didn’t condone the stoning of the woman for one reason and one reason only. He had come to take the “stoning” for her. Not only hers, but ours as well.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” [2 Corinthians 5:21].
–Chris Morris is associate pastor for worship, youth and visitation at Littleton, Colorado church.