God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

Gettin’ stoned

Posted by Martin on December 11, 2006

A 30-second reading from John 8: 1-7 (NIV):

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

Now this is the Jesus that I’m talking about. He’s not only the Son of God – he’s also, in some strange way that we can’t fathom – actually God too. And in this story, right in the middle of his ministry on earth, we see his heart for people – and especially for a certain kind of person.

The religious leaders are about to stone this woman. That didn’t mean that they were going to toss pebbles in her general direction; they were going to lob great chunks of rock at her head at a terminal velocity. Her crime? Pretty serious in that culture – she’d been caught in bed with a man who wasn’t her husband. So it’s not as if she was innocent – certainly not in the eyes of these religious men.

So into the middle of this ultra-high-temperature moment, as the mob gets ready to inflict its judgement on the woman (who may have been standing there naked and humiliated, and certainly would have been utterly terrified), walks Jesus.

What does he do? He turns the situation back on its head. Fine, he says – stone her. So long as you’re not guilty of making mistakes in your own life too.

At which point the terrified woman puts her hands over her eyes and expects the worst. But of course, as v8-11 tell us, she doesn’t recieve a single blow. Jesus knows that every member of the crowd would have been guilty of some lesser or greater wrong, and they have no answer to him.

First of all, I think it’s significant that Jesus goes to the rescue of a woman who, to be honest, was probably a bit of a low-life. Nobody really likes a love-cheat, do they? Well, apparently Jesus does. He likes her so much, he steps in and saves her life. Time and again in fact, the types of people who Jesus spends his time with can be something of a surprise to us. Prostitutes, tax collectors (the crack dealers of their day), men and women of ill repute – he spent as much time with them as he did with the religious types. I’m not sure that’s the Jesus that we tell people about today.

Second, I think Jesus words to the religious people then are just as relevant for the church today. And as I look around, I can’t help thinking we’ve forgotten them. When I see Christians at gay pride marches holding banners that say ‘Got Aids Yet?’; when I see hordes of placard-waving God-people outside abortion clinics when on the same street homeless people starve; when I see all that, these words from Jesus stick in my throat. Even forgetting our Westen gluttony, materialism and disregard for the poor – surely when the church throws around hate like this, they’re guilty of just as much sin as any of their potential targets?

We need to remember that Jesus preached (and lived out) a message of love, and hope for everyone – not of comfort for some and damnation for all the rest.

And as Christians we need to realise that we don’t have a God-given right to throw stones.

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One Response to “Gettin’ stoned”

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