So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
This is the great equalizer, really, because none of the Pharisees who had brought this woman here could honestly say they had never sinned. They were trying to play judge, but Jesus shows them they are more like this woman than they would ever dare to admit. They were guilty, too. Our sin puts us on a level playing field before God, because though they had brought this woman to be condemned, they were all standing before God Himself, and nothing was hid from Him. They were all equally condemned, having broken the law, having come up short of God’s perfection and righteousness.
And Jesus, the only one truly without sin among them, did not cast a stone, but showed mercy. And when we realize the sin within ourselves, may that produce mercy in our own hearts toward others and less judgment and condemnation. We’re all kind of in the same boat here, struggling against the flesh, failing at times, coming up woefully short of what we know we should be. So can’t we be gracious with each other? Can’t we try to help instead of cast aside? Can’t we seek to restore and build up instead of seeking punishment or further suffering for those who have sinned? Certainly we would appreciate the same when we’ve done something we shouldn’t have.
But perhaps the saddest part of this story is the unrepentant hearts of the Pharisees. They realized their sin in this moment but didn’t do anything about it. They left off stoning this woman, but then they just went away exactly the same as they were. Jesus looked at them and saw every one of their sins and left them to consider it and what they would do with that knowledge. And they just took it all with them and went their way. Perhaps up until this point they had thought of sin as something other people did, that somehow it was a plague of the common man around them that they were not touched by. But Jesus forces them to confront what they find within themselves and see that sin is a problem for everyone.
Unless we are aware of our own sinfulness, our hearts will never be open to the grace of God and His words of truth. So may our own realization of our sin not drive us away from Jesus, but to Him. There we can fall at His feet and receive forgiveness. There we can be set free from those chains upon us. There we can become brand-new and go away clean. So let’s not take it back home with us when we can leave it with Jesus and let Him solve that problem of sin we all have but can do nothing about on our own.