Common English Bible (CEB)
10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”
11 She said, “No one, sir.”[a]
Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”[b]
You know how they say “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”? If it wasn’t so expensive, I say all Christians should live in houses like the one above. Then again, if we did that, we’d all wind up homeless.
It certainly would help us realize what Jesus was trying to get across here.
This story is one of my favorites in the bible. It’s also one of the most convicting ones for Christians. All these stories that come before, of Jesus calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, of the pharisees trying to do their best to live up to the Torah the best way they know how, leads to this. It’s an example of letting a good thing like the law get in the way of seeing the living Torah in Jesus, and that Torah, much like the one written down, is based on a single precept.
Love. Caritas. Agape. Whatever language you want to call it, it all means the same thing. Selflessness. Compassion. Mercy. Justice. Peace. Love.
It’s the one thing we’re called to do. It’s also the one thing we fail at most spectacularly.
For a group of people that say they follow Jesus, who preached the coming Reign of God as defined by peace through justice, mercy, and compassion and love, we sure do fail at loving people a lot. I do it all the time. I’m not exempting myself; I can’t. Jesus sure doesn’t make any exceptions. Everyone has sin. Everyone has failed at some point, yet we always seem to be the first people to single out certain people as “worse sinners” than we are.
How do you judge which sin is worse? All of them are equal in God’s eyes. All of them mean us missing the mark, the ideal life that God had in mind for us. Is adultery a worse sin than greed? Is slander a worse sin than gluttony? Is pride a worse sin than lust? All of them are bad. And all of us have committed one, at some point in time.
Jesus says for those without sin to cast the first stone, and people recognized their own sin, and walked away.
If he said the same today, I doubt we would get the hint.
You see it on the television. You hear it on the radio. People claiming superiority over others because of what they believe, and that belief means ostracizing and condemning people who don’t fit into their categories.
That’s not how Jesus operated, and that’s not how we should operate. We’re all messed up. We’re all broken. All our houses have been shattered at some point. However, throwing more stones isn’t the way to fix a glass house.
The way you fix a glass house is to try and pick up the pieces, and that takes cooperation, lots of patience, and compassion. Mercy. Love. Nobody was left to condemn, once the people recognized their own sin.
The only person left to condemn was Jesus. And you know what he said.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore.”