One day, a group of religious leaders and teachers of the law dragged a woman to Jesus in the temple.
Her offense was that she was caught in the act of adultery. She had violated the law of Moses which was the sacred moral code of the day.
It is interesting to note that the woman was caught in adultery but there was no mention of the man involved in the act with her.
The same Mosaic law that condemns the woman also prescribed similar judgment against the man involved in the act with the woman.
But it was only the woman who was humiliated and dragged through the streets all the way to the temple.
Why did those religious fellows create a false interpretation of the same law by which they condemned someone else?
The essence of hypocrisy is the belief that you are all right, and the other person is wrong or plain bad, even when you are equally guilty of the same or similar vices.
The problem is that anyone taking the hypocrisy lane does not see anything wrong with their own journey. As a result, they see no need to make any changes or perhaps seek help.
The focus on exposing other people's wrongdoing robs the hypocrite at heart from looking inward and accepting their own reality.
How sad to know you need as much help as the person you frequently shame and berate for their bad behaviour.
What conflict does such a heart endure when confronted with the reality of their own condition? Such revelation causes a great tumult in a heart that harbors pretense and a self-delusionary level of righteousness.
Trapped between justice and mercy
It was obvious that the men who accused the woman were not interested in the law or justice. Otherwise, they would not have let the adulterous man off the hook.
Rather, they wanted to use the occasion to plug a hole in Jesus's doctrines and label him a blasphemous false teacher.
By this time the Romans had prohibited the use of capital punishment. If Jesus agreed that the woman should be stoned, they would have pitted him against the Roman authorities.
The first stone
Jesus knew what game the crowd of religious hypocrites were playing. And he said something that went straight to their hearts and tore apart the walls of their pretense, hypocrisy, and wickedness.
He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first (John 8:7, NKJV).
Hypocrisy is a false reality. It can't stand the truth.
The question Jesus asked struck the heart of hypocrisy like a ton of brick.
You may not have been caught in the act at that time. Maybe you have never been caught or probably too clever to be caught. Or perhaps, you may not have committed adultery but did something else that is equally punishable.
That would have been the tumult in the hearts of the men standing with stone in hand in front of Jesus.
One by one, the anti-adultery activists dropped their stones and left the scene.
This story reflects the depths of God's mercies. The fact that a penitent sinner can find grace and forgiveness.
But it also reflects a deeper truth:
We all need to be mindful of what stones we carry around.
The physical stones were targeted at the woman. But in the hearts of those men, the real target was Jesus.
It doesn't matter who you think deserves to be stoned or stopped (as was the case with Jesus). What matters is if you have asked yourself this question.
Are you righteous enough to cast the first stone?
If not, don't just walk away, drop the stone and bow before God who alone is able to show you mercy and offer forgiveness.