The powers-that-be have just dragged her from the bed of a man to whom she is not married.
Perhaps all she is wearing is a bedsheet.
Perhaps he is one of the powers-that-be.
Nevertheless, there she stands, exposed, before her authorities. They do not care about her. They do not care about right or wrong. The have stalked her, captured her, and reduced her to the status of rubbish for one purpose: to trick a popular counselor of that day.
“The law demands this woman be stoned to death,” they announce. Then they wait. They are so sure. They have Him this time. The Man of Mercies will have to admit that mercy does not always win. They think.
He is unperturbed. He stoops and writes in the dust. A list of their sins? Perhaps. Do they look around themselves, worriedly, confused? Perhaps.
Meanwhile, the life of a woman hangs over eternity. Perhaps, thrown down to the ground, does she cower? Perhaps. In a culture that forbids her uncovered state, in a land filled with huge stones, she waits, uncovered, for her stoning.
Finally the Man stands to speak. “And whoever is without sin should throw the first stone.” Then he resumes writing.
Beginning with the eldest–perhaps wisest–each man drops his gleeful attitude, drops his stone, drops his case. Point taken.
The kind Counselor turns to ask the woman, “Where are they? Who is accusing you?”
The answer, from inside a bedsheet: “No one.”
“Neither do I condemn you.”
Notice He does not say she did not sin, but only that He does not condemn her. She stands obviously guilty and shamed, but for her, there is now no condemnation.
Stoning is not prevalent in our society, but prostitution is. I want to ask you: How many of us have been there–a blackened past forgiven by the mercies of God?
How many of us throw away that forgiveness? How many of us hug our sad past close and get it out to look at it and mourn over it, to relive it to its fullest? How many of us labor with all our might to get out from under sin that no longer is over us? How many of us on, stormy days, add to the bad past by letting it create for us bad choices, bad attitutdes, bad excuses?
A bad present?
Jesus asked only one thing from that woman, that day, and asks it of us, too: “Go, and sin no more.”