Under one condition1
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
- from John 8:7
Jesus gives the crowd his blessing to execute this woman … under one condition. No one in the crowd met that condition. No one in the crowd would even claim to meet that condition. None of the woman’s accusers had lived lives free from sin. And none of us have either.
An awareness of our own sin moderates our response to sin in the lives of others. It softens the edges. It creates possibilities of mercy and forgiveness. It opens a door for empathy.
For some of us, that’s the last thing in the world we want.
People’s wrong-doing has hurt us. Evil is evil and brokenness breaks hearts. The demands of justice cry out to be met. And doesn’t God care about justice?
As followers of Jesus, we have an odd relationship with justice.
We want to see God’s justice celebrated in all the earth. And yet, in Christ, we have been the recipients of God’s mercy. Christ has taken our place, suffering for our sins in his death on the cross. We gratefully acknowledge that God spared us the justice our sins deserve. When he sends us out into the world we are – at the same time – agents of justice and agents of mercy.
So, before you throw stones, look around you. Piled up to the north, south, east, and west you’ll see a wall of stones rising to the heavens. Not a single one of them has been thrown at you by our just God. Each one is stamped with a cross. Mercy upon mercy surrounds you.
How will you live, love and pursue justice in the shadow of God’s mercy?