Lisa felt no sympathy for those who cheated on their spouse . . . until she found herself deeply unsatisfied with her marriage and struggling to resist a dangerous attraction. That painful experience helped her gain a new compassion for others and greater understanding of Christ’s words: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7).
Jesus was teaching in the temple courts when He made that statement. A group of teachers of the law and Pharisees had just dragged a woman caught in adultery before Him and challenged, “In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (v. 5). Because they considered Jesus a threat to their authority, the question was “a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him” (v. 6)—and getting rid of Him.
Yet when Jesus replied, “Let any one of you who is without sin . . .” not one of the woman’s accusers could bring themselves to pick up a stone. One by one, they walked away.
Before we critically judge another’s behavior while looking lightly at our own sin, let’s remember that all of us “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Instead of condemnation, our Savior showed this woman—and you and me—grace and hope (John 3:16; 8:10–11). How can we not do the same for others?
How can you put the lesson of John 8 into action in how you treat others? How can you use your own experience to help others facing similar challenges?
Although the earliest Greek manuscripts don’t include John 8:1–11, scholars believe this was an authentic event from Jesus’s life—a part of oral tradition that was added to John’s gospel later. The Mosaic Law mandates both adulterer and adulteress must be put to death by stoning (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22–24). If Jesus let the adulterous woman go unpunished, the Pharisees would accuse and condemn Him for contradicting and rejecting God’s laws (John 8:6). If Jesus confirmed the death penalty, He would be discredited for His lack of compassion and could also be charged for breaking Roman laws for “only the Romans are permitted to execute someone” (John 18:31