Let him who is without sin among you ...

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

In his book Ben Israel: Odyssey of a Modern Jew, Christian author Art Katz describes his reaction to this passage from the perspective of an unbelieving Jewish intellectual who reads this story for the very first time:
"The law said that the woman must be stoned. Yet Jesus had been teaching forgiveness, and earlier in the Book had actually said, "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Jesus was trapped. ... What would I say in Jesus' place? I searched my mind, exhausting my resources of logic and reason and finally conceded there was no answer. Fully expecting the worst, I reopened the book and read on. I found Jesus bending over, poking His finger in the dirt. ... And then came His answer, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." I gasped. A sword had been plunged deep into my own being. It was numbing and shocking, yet thrilling, because the answer was so utterly perfect. It defied cerebral examination. It cut across every major issue I had ever anguished upon in my life. Truth. Justice. Righteousness. Integrity. I knew that what I had read transcended human knowledge and comprehension. It had to be divine.''
I concur with Katz. There was absolutely no intellectual solution to the dilemma.

I wonder if Jesus prayed as he bent down? His answer was amazingly divine. Who would have expected him to turn the tables on those who sought to trip him up? And what of the reaction of the Jews? The oldest left first - speaks volumes about how we grow in our understanding of our own sin. And what of Jesus' response to the woman? What would it have been like to have heard Jesus' words. The story is so amazing. It teaches us about ourselves and about God. When we condemn He is there to restore and comfort.

Save me Lord from my desire to condemn those who hurt. Help me to love.

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