Jesus was always able to keep the demands of the Law in balance with the merciful application of it. In John 8:2-11, the religious leaders have caught a woman in the act of adultery and are trying to trap Jesus by asking what they should do; whether or not she should be stoned according to the Law of Moses.
The problem is that these leaders were not interested in moral purity, for they had not brought the man along as well. They had abused power and misused the Law of God and had failed to show compassion. They thought they had Jesus in a corner because if he said stone her, then he would be disobeying Roman law as only they could sanction capital punishment and if he said let her go Jesus would be shown to be weak on the Law and not a true prophet.
And so Jesus commands that those who have not sinned can cast the first stone. There is no doubt that Jesus is referring to the sin of adultery, so when each of the leaders walks away it is because they have committed adultery.
However, at no stage does He minimise the seriousness of the woman’s sin. He tells her that ‘neither do I condemn you’, because Jesus came to bring forgiveness of sins and to enable people to be reconciled to God. He also commands the woman to leave her life of sin. There is a wonderful balance of justice and mercy. The woman is accountable for her sin and is shown that she can have a fresh start with God.
God’s Blessing, David O’Mara
From the PM Pastor’s Bulletin, 28 November 2021