2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 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. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Thoughts: Here Jesus gives justification to stop capital punishment for spiritual sins. Christians do not stone without forgetting their own Savior's example. While there have been historically gross and horrible exceptions, Christians today do not crucify or burn others for spiritual sins. After all, Jesus, the Christian leader and Lord, was killed for a spiritual sin he did not commit (Yes, he really was God in the flesh Mark 11:62-65).
Last week the Pastafarian group at the University of South Carolina was trying to raise money for Amnesty International and call attention (semi-tongue-in-cheek) for "the need for secularization" by holding a "Stoning a Heathen" event. I believe they were asking for $1 per water balloon. But the solution to senseless human killing is not secularization. I don't know why people ignore the horrible atrocities done in the name of secularization and the common good in the Soviet Union's gulags (23 million) or by the Khmer Rouge in the Cambodia killing fields (1.7 million) or the millions killed by Mao (60 million) or even the 1.6 million killed by Kim Il Jung (http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/dictat.html). If anything, religion brings meaning and value to life, so that humans are not just computer generated numbers or "senseless acts of careless evolution." Each person is valuable- made in the image of God. Sexual immorality is condemned as one of the highest human wrongs because it treats a person (and the making of persons) too lightly. Jesus recognizes the sin of sexual immorality when he says to go and sin no more. But he does not condemn her by stoning.
Prayer: Lord, help me to value others- even those who differ from me, because you made them. Give me grace to be as gracious and holy as you.
John Calvin abridged: The Pharisess brought him a woman to try to trap him. By doing nothing but writing on the sand, Christ was showing how unworthy they were of being heard. ("He who is without sin")- Here Christ is not saying that a judge has to be perfect in order to send a criminal to prison; rather he is rebuking those who hypocritically condemn others easily, and overlook their own faults. ("Go and sin no more")- When forgiveness is offered to us, we ought to respond with repentance.