He Who Is Without Sin

A small band of people had quickly grown into a crowd as rumours of a woman cheating on her husband spread. Apparently, the scribes and Pharisees had caught her in the act of adultery, and according to the law she should die by stoning.

As the crowd was making its way through the streets its numbers swelled with spectators and the curious. Suddenly they stopped in the Temple area. Before them was Yeshua seated, teaching His disciples.

The scribes and the Pharisees had brought this woman specifically to test Yeshua. "And when they had set her in the midst they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?'" (John 8:4-5) A hush came upon the crowd. They watched and listened intently. What would He say?

The Law stipulates that both the man and the woman should be stoned. "If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil person from Israel . . . then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them with stones . . . " (Deuteronomy 22:22-24)

There was no doubt this woman had been caught in the very act, as her appearance and silence testified. Her guilt was obvious to all. And as an adulterer she was facing the death sentence. The Law was clear, she was condemned to die by stoning.

The Law is perfect, as King David declared, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul . . . " (Psalm 19:7) Since it is able to convert the soul, the Law is perfect to expose sin in all its glory. Like the turning on of a light in a darkened room, where the light sends the darkness scampering to obscure corners and shadows, so too the Law sends the wicked scampering for the shadows to hide their sin.

Unfortunately, the Law is not safe from being mishandled. It can be abused when those in authority have an agenda apart from "converting the soul" .

This was the case when the scribes and Pharisees confronted Yeshua with the woman caught in adultery. Their priority was not the woman's repentance from death, or her conversion to life, but to test Yeshua. The woman was merely a pawn in their attempt to have something by which they could accuse Him.

"'Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say?'" This they said, testing him, that they might have something of which to accuse him." (John 8:5-6)

The crowd was convinced. The woman was clearly guilty, and the Law condemned her to death. Surely, Yeshua would not go against the Law. Did He not say, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil" (Matthew 5:17)?

He made no reply, but simply wrote on the ground with his finger. Keen to get a verbal response, the scribes and Pharisees persisted. "So when they continued asking him, he raised himself up and said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.'" (John 8:7)

Conviction fell on the crowd like a blanket, as each one realized the truth. "Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last." (John 8:8)

The truth was that none were without sin, and in the eyes of God, both old and young were worthy of death. For one sinner to condemn another, from God's perspective, is wrong. Only God can condemn sin because He alone is holy. He is without sin.

Every sin, regardless of type, leads to death. There is no life in sin, only death. Just as the body degenerates from birth to old age and the grave, so too sin takes away life from a person.

The truth was that everyone in the crowd, in God's eyes, was a sinner and all were as guilty as the woman caught in adultery.

Guilt compounded in the hearts of those in the crowd as they began to realize their situation. They were, in fact, further adding to their sin by condemning this woman in their thoughts and by their actions. Indeed, they were ready to stone her. Shame and a guilty conscience caused them to leave—heads bowed, no doubt.

The crowd gone, Yeshua and the woman were left alone. "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Yeshua said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.'" (John 8:10-11)

It is a blessing to see the Law of the Lord functioning as it should. Rather than condemning sinners to death, one is encouraged by the Law to seek their restoration to life. "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul . . . " (Psalm 19:7)

When the Law is manipulated by ruthless persons it brings death and destruction. But when the Law is in the hands of someone who is trustworthy, then there is life and liberty. And so it was when Yeshua said to the woman, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:11)

Just as the light being turned on in the darkened room sends the darkness hiding to obscure corners and shadows, the light, at the same time, exposes all stationary objects. In the same way, those who stay to allow the light to expose their sin can walk in the light. While those who leave choose to hide in the shadows, preferring to cling to sin.

The woman, guilty of adultery and condemned by the crowd, stayed to walk in the light.

"Then Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'" (John 8:12)