The scribes and Pharisees, however, brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before them and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do You say?” John 8:3-5.
The Lord showed me this verse a day ago and I was puzzled as to the particular significance within it, because although it is one of the more popular accounts of Jesus' interaction with 'sinners', during his life and ministry, the emphasis here was more to do with the religious leaders.
So as I studied the passage above the Holy Spirit opened my spiritual eyes to the key message He wanted to reveal to me and one I knew was crucial for all of us to hear and receive in this season.
In this passage the religious leaders (the scribes and Pharisees) were in the process of attempting to trap Jesus because of the manner in which he had confronted them time and time again throughout his various public speaking events and teachings.
They had a proverbial 'bone to pick' with him as they say, and as a result chose to hunt down the most sinful person they could find to publicly humiliate her and to use her to demonstrate their religious superiority in the eyes of the law. This was, of course, a ploy to trap Jesus and to give them ammunition against him in the public eye so that, hopefully, it would question Jesus' credibility, his teachings and his claims and strengthen their cause against him.
But, let's not forgot that these were the same guys Jesus has been calling out and exposing as “white washed tombs” in Matthew 23:27-28, where He says,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you appear to be righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Is it any wonder they chose to resort to this petty form of self-vindication. By re-emphasizing the sin of another it made them appear less guilty before Christ as if to publicly defend their own righteousness in comparison to hers.
But, Jesus exposed them for what they were - clean on the outside but filthy on the inside. Internally their souls were laden with sin - evil motives, pride, selfishness, arrogance, self-righteousness, compromise, pretense, deceit and double standards. They were pretending to act on behalf of God and yet were leading people into the same state of misconstrued piety and falsehood they occupied. Instead of administering life, they were leading people to death, and instead of providing light, they were stumbling in the darkness.
As believers, although we don't immediately recognize it, we often do the same thing to others.
Instead of acknowledging the troubled state of our souls and spirit we instead detract from our shortcomings and weaknesses and choose instead to pick on those who seem to be more sinful then ourselves so that our guilt becomes less obvious to others.
Perhaps we don't demonstrate it physically, but its played out in a different form of public arena today. We love to pick on and sacrifice each other through virtual lynchings. Whether it’s on Facebook or Instagram or other forms of social media; we pick bones with those we resent, those that offend us or perhaps those that remind us of our own failings and shortcomings. Instead of seeking to understand, to empathize and to mend souls that are broken and in need of repair, we choose to pick on the bones of the dead carcasses like vultures as a way of satisfying our own spiritual deficiencies.
So what did Christ do in this situation?
When the Pharisees posed this question to him, he got straight to the heart of the matter, which was the soul that needed to be saved. Not the legal argument on issues of righteousness.
Jesus turned the question back on them and exposed their hearts before the public with one simple line, " he who is without sin, cast the first stone." (John 8:7). He exposed the real and hidden truth behind the accusations and assumptions they were making and revealed the essence of the issue before them.
This is what happens when we lose sight of just how broken we all are. We tend to start pointing fingers at one another instead of at ourselves. We were all sinners, lost, dejected, desperate and confused in need of Grace. In need of love and a second chance. Just like the adulterous woman who was being put on public trial and used as a religious scapegoat. But, God’s love redeems, it saves, it restores.
Religion and legalism destroys and focuses on the need for judgement, but God's love displayed through Jesus focuses on the need for mercy and salvation for each and every precious soul. He stood in our place, when we least deserved it.
So in view of this profound truth, the question now comes back to you? What do you do in situations like this? Do we immediately condemn and judge or do we extend Grace where Grace is needed the most?
Always be careful which side you choose to stand on before you cast the first stone, because at the end of the day, no one will be excused from judgement, and no one is immune. They that have been shown mercy should also extend mercy to others (Romans 11:31), because in the measure that you were forgiven you will be required to forgive (Luke 6:37-38).
I pray that if this word has touched and convicted you and you feel you need prayer and support to overcome these issues, let me know and I will be happy to help you through it. If you don't feel free to open up at this time, that's fine too. There is no right or wrong way to get right with God. You can pray in your home or workplace right now and start with a prayer like this -
Heavenly Father, I'm sorry for taking your place and judging others. I repent of that wrong mindset and attitude today. Help me to realize just how much I have been forgiven and to be grateful for that privilege that you gave to me through your son, Jesus. Help me to be more like Him and to learn to extend that Grace and Mercy to others, even when I feel they don't deserve it, because I don't see their pain and struggle, only you do! I release the offence, the bitterness and resent or pride and arrogance I am harbouring in my heart today, and ask that you send a fresh anointing from your Spirit to touch and restore me. Today I receive your healing and wholeness in my life, in Jesus Name I pray! Amen.
Your Sister in Christ.