“‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’”
After the crowd shows their unwillingness to stone the adulterous woman, today’s Gospel scene might seem over. The final words exchanged in the Gospel between Jesus and her would seem to be simply a wrapping up of the story. Yet in these last words, we see the heart of the Gospel revealed to us. We should see ourselves as this woman.
At first glance, it could seem that Jesus’ refusal to condemn the woman means that He approved of her actions, or at least that her actions were not something to worried about. However, in sending her forth, Jesus tells her that what she has done is indeed a sin, one which she must avoid in the future.
Jesus refuses to condemn her in the midst of her life. To put it somewhat flippantly, condemning another human being is sending someone to Hell before his time. Certainly the woman’s sin is something that deserves eternal punishment, but Jesus refuses to equate the woman and her sin. It is not sin alone which condemns a person to eternal punishment: a person must also persist in holding onto that sin, refusing to see it as sinful, and refusing to embrace God’s grace instead of sin. As long as a person still has a day to live on this earth—even a moment—he still has the chance to recognize his sinfulness, to turn to God in sorrow, and to ask for mercy.