“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
Jesus challenges a crowd that is ready to stone a sinful woman to death. He says that only those who are without sin have the right to throw a stone — and, one by one, the accusers walk away, forced to admit that they too are sinners.
Jesus is reminding us that we are often blind to our own sin. We can be quick to criticize a spouse for a thoughtless comment, quick to judge a fallen celebrity, or quick to look down on a neighbor for breaking a law. But we quickly forget that we too have sinned — perhaps even in the same ways. In this story we see that we all stand equally in need of forgiveness and that only Jesus has the right to judge.
Why are we so quick to criticize and condemn? Probably because it is much easier than looking inside ourselves. We live in a world that provides limitless ways to avoid the pain of self-reflection. But if we are honest, we must admit that we are just as guilty of violating God’s law as anyone else.
And yet Jesus has a word for us. When we repent and believe, we experience the gift of forgiveness. Then he encourages us to leave our life of sin and be born again, becoming a new creation in the image of Christ.
Father, forgive me for my tendency to judge people. Help me to be slower to speak about the sins of others and to see my own need for your forgiveness. Amen.