Jesus is all about more of what matters – when the rocks are locked and loaded. The first several verses of John 8  relate the story of the woman caught in an act of adultery and brought before Jesus. The incident where He bent down to write something in the dirt.
Her accusers? Wait for it…the scribes (professional writers) and the Pharisees (religious separatists) who were intent on ensnaring Jesus.
Who was she? A sinner whom they shoved out in front amid a ‘two birds with one stone’ mentality. If they could have the self-righteous secondary pleasure of stoning her as long as they could trap him, well then, all the better. A good day’s work perched in the judge’s seat.
Which, by the way, was their first mistake.
There was an orderly court of law for bringing such an accusation. But, they chose to seize her, then stand her in the middle of the courtyard (not the court) where everyone could watch the ensuing smackdown.
Two thousand years later the scene doesn’t read much different. The good news is Jesus isn’t different either.
THROW the STONE
Today’s social issues are diverse. By the way, this post is not about gun control, adultery, or the gap between the genders (a handful of issues among many); it’s about what motivates us at a personal level. It is about taking a step back to consider the bigger social issue, the one that Jesus zeroed in on. The one He wouldn’t let rest.
Let’s look in on the first part of the scene:
 Jesus…was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.
The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery.
They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said,
“Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery.
Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt.
They kept at him, badgering him.
He straightened up and said,
“The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.”
He was after more of what matters when the rocks are locked and loaded. Instead of commanding them to drop the rocks, yelling at them ‘don’t you dare!’, standing in front of the woman to shield her, or picking up fistfuls of rocks to beat the men at their own sick game, He invited them to a competition: “Throw the stone.”
Oh, there was one rule, however, because it’s not a fair competition without some rules.
“The sinless one among you, go first…”
Bear in mind that Jesus is the Great Equalizer of all time. Though this story is rife with gender inflections, Jesus supersedes even the genders when it comes to the matter of the heart, one’s wellspring of life. He wanted them to see their own stony heart out of which they kept mining rocks and more rocks.
This applied to the men who were accusing and holding literal rocks in their hands. It was just as significant to the accused, the woman caught in the act. Let’s not downplay her part in this. Jesus’ compassion was strong enough to address her sin. And, don’t forget that the setting was the Temple with ‘swarms of people’ in attendance. Hearts galore that Jesus desired to reach beyond His teach. He had another solution altogether:
Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.
Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest.
The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her.
“Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.” “Neither do I,” said Jesus.
“Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
(John 8:1-11 MSG)
ROCKS of REPENTANCE
As the scene unfolded, Jesus modeled a resolution that I think probably entered few, if any, of their minds. After all, someone had to win and someone had to lose, right? Isn’t that what competition is about? Ah, but this Master of Hearts mastered the situation beautifully, then left the model and the principles for us to use as well.
- He came to bring sinners to repentance, including the religious ones.[2}
- He had his Father’s mind on the matter: help them realize that His kindness leads a heart to repent.
- He was Mercy, not just merciful. Merciful would have focused only on the woman’s situation. Mercy patiently knelt down over the heart of the matter: loving conviction of each person in observing earshot.
- He appealed to the sinner’s own thoughts: not leveraging condemnation even as He sent them on their way with the command to no longer continue in their sin from that point forward. It would mean true repentance from their heart, which would lead to the conversion (changed) factor, that would allow them to walk out this new way of thinking about old ways of behavior- their own and others’. Such a change in one’s state of mind would bring a fresh disposition eager to choose the good and refuse the evil of sin.
- He left the choice to repent with each one, knowing what it would require them, and that by faith. The greater gift of spiritual life more abundant would manifest as they repented of locked and loaded rocks.
When Jesus finished meeting the immediate issue at hand, He turned to address the crowd again. Likewise, the Pharisees returned to their verbal shenanigans. Slow learners bar none, just as we modern ones can be when we are modeling Pharisaical garb and gab.
By the end of John 8 they had worked themselves up to the point of taking up stones to hurl at Him. Same song, second verse. This was not simply an issue of wanting to stone a sinful, adulterous woman. They wanted to stone the sinless Messiah who kept pulling the rug out from under their dusty feet. If He could cause them to slink away and let her off the hook at the same time, then enough of this I AM’s version of win-win! Not fair.
The social issue wasn’t between sinful or sinless; they see-sawed at will according to the mood of the hour. Instead, it was an internal issue of the heart that refused to believe the truth Jesus was speaking.
Two thousand years have not changed this internal issue of the heart and what it chooses to believe. Or not. It still comes down to more of what matters when the rocks are locked and loaded. Jesus presents it simply, fairly:
“The sinless one among you, go first: throw the stone.”
– or –
“Neither do I condemn you. Go on your way and from now on sin no more.”
It’s our choice. If we’ve read this far, we cannot stand before Him one day and say, “I never knew…” while clutching our handful of rocks. He loves us too much so He’s told us in advance, kind messenger that He is.
~ Gracefully Free
 Romans 2:1-11│More in More of What Matters Series