no stones to throw | John 8.7-8
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.
John 8.7-8 | ESV
The religious lynch mob didn’t budge either. They stood there and kept prodding him with their own pointed fingers of accusation. Jesus finally looked up at them and said, “The only one with a rock in his hand is the one with no sin in his heart.” And then he was back to finger doodling in the dirt. MAV
Οὐδὲν ἄρα νῦν κατάκριμα.
Truly a foreign language.
These are the first words of Romans 8:1, and even when translated, they are still quite foreign to us, at least on a practical level.
“So then, now, no condemnation.”
The rest of the thought: “to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not along a path of carnal indulgence, but along a path true spiritual life.” (Okay, there’s just a bit of the MAV in there.)
I almost hate to complete the thought for the simple reason we can then use it to draw our own circle of elect favor that of course includes us and excludes all who disagree with us on a verbal or practical level. We stand in a judgment free zone, while everyone else (poor, deluded, carnal fools!) lives under his condemnation.
But this story doesn’t let us off so easy, for it seems the characters are reversed.
The devout Scripture pundits, the pious religious crowd who certainly look like they are walking “along a path of true spiritual life” living in a judgment free zone because of their straight beliefs and strict practice are the ones who leave with their sins exposed, and it’s a shamed woman clearly caught in a “path of carnal indulgence” – it’s clear she was in adultery, not in Christ – that receives no condemnation.
Jesus had no stones to throw, though according to his stated condition, he was the only one who qualified.
“The one with a rock in his hand had better be the one with no sin in his heart!”
No stones to throw at either the caught, shamed woman, or the calculating, oh-so-sure-of-themselves judges.
An incisive word exposing the hypocrisy of the would-be judges and an incisive word of healing for the would-be condemned, but no stones.
κατάκριμα literally means a “judging down,” and it’s the verb form that we find here. Jesus isn’t in the business of judging anyone down. He’s in the business of lifting us up and sending us forward.
What a good business for us to join…
Whom do you most identify with in this story: the accusing, shaming judges or the accused, shamed woman? Why? What is the key to living a life within and without that is free of condemnation?
Abba, give me the grace to drop the rocks I would throw at others, especially at other rock throwers. Show me how to walk in a life free of condemnation within and without, that my words and actions may bring your healing and goodness. Through Christ.