Itching to Cast Stones

“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. 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 said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, “You will become free”?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin…’

“The Jews [said], ‘Are we not right in saying that you… have a demon?’ Jesus answered, ‘I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death…’ So they picked up stones to throw at him.” John 8:3-9,31-34,48-51,59

The sin of pride puts a twitch in our fingers. Self-righteousness hates the disgusting sin of others, and the raw exposing of our own. The Pharisees had it out for anyone who was not as well-behaved as they, and the gentle but penetrating castigation from this Teacher really made them itchy to condemn. Who was He anyway to intrude upon their thoughts and intentions? Who was He to upend their legalistic morality and pronounce them slaves?

The wall we fabricate around our legalism can constrict our perception of the freedom Jesus came to give. We get hung up in a tit-for-tat, when Jesus holds out His nail-scarred hands and says ‘this for that,’ and points to heaven. Think of the energy the Pharisees spent in argument and finger-wagging when they could have laid down their nitpick magnifiers and chosen forgiveness and freedom. Our Savior so wants to remove our blinders and break through our walls!

Instead of casting a stone today, would we take time to let the Holy Spirit cast a light on our hearts, our fiercely held attitudes, our thoughtless habits, our default, uncontrolled, unfiltered responses to things that grate at us? Would we ask Him to light our way with His word, so every choice, every effort, every response is saturated in His love? Would we pause and change ‘how dare You?’ to ‘how dare I?’ and release our stones? (Psalm 119:105; 139:23-24)

Lord Jesus, thank You for taking my punishment in my place. Help me be as grace-filled to others as You are to me, showing forth the freedom of Your forgiveness in all its splendor. (Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13)

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