Daily Worship

Casting the first stone

Norah Summers November 19, 2023 1 2
Image credit: Unsplash
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John 8: 3-11 (GNT)

3 The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 In our Law Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?” 6 They said this to trap Jesus, so that they could accuse him. But he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 As they stood there asking him questions, he straightened up and said to them, “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.” 8 Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first. Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing there. 10 He straightened up and said to her, “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she answered.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.”

‘Whichever one of you has committed no sin’ – yet we judge other people all the time.

This has always been a shocking story. We know the old laws were brutal, but this is quite graphic. It is only too easy to picture the scene – the shamed frightened woman, the self-righteous accusers, the jeering crowd. And where is the other party in this story of adultery? ‘Caught in the act’ – and just quietly disappeared – ???

We may have a different perspective now, but shaming and harassing people is still a staple ingredient of some newspapers. The subjects may indeed have done something wrong, but would the readers cast a first stone? What about the trolls who delight in abusing others on social media?

Have we actually moved on at all?

Who joins in that self-righteous finger-pointing?

Some of the lessons Jesus taught make very uncomfortable hearing.

Sometimes we need to be disturbed.




Loving God,

when we think we are reading old stories,

show us Jesus, in the crowd, speaking to us today.


When we self-righteously point the finger at others,

show us Jesus, pointing us to our own hearts.


Give us grace to look kindly on the failings of others,

for even if our own are less heinous,

they still grieve you.


Forgive us.