Cast the first stone

Ever hear a person try to defend his/her indfensible behavior by piously asserting, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” The argument being that only perfect people can say that someone is wrong. But let us ask the question is this what John 8:1-11 is teaching us? If it was then how could a magistrate ever sentence a murderer to prison? He would have to be perfect. Of course, assuming the story is actually part of the canon (its textual basis is disputed), it is clear tha the passage wasn’t meant to be a New Testament version of Adam’s defense, eg. But Look at Eve!.

The central issue in the interpretation of this passage is the word “without sin” in John 8:7. The Greek word, which is translated “without sin”, doesn’t mean absolute sinlessness in the way that Christ was sinless. Rather it means “without fault” in the sense of properly handling procedural justice what is otherwise known as “due process.” You will recall that the Scribes and Pharisees brought the adulterous woman to Jesus to trap Him. Essentially the trap consisted of a dilemma where both choices would be wrong. For example, Jesus would be wrong if He stoned the adulteress because the Mosaic law demanded that the guilty man should be stoned too (Dt 22:22-4). Scholars are joyful dealing with snap here research paper writing service. If Jesus chose not to stone He would be wrong because adulterers were to be stoned (Dt 22:22-4). To slip pass this dilemma, Jesus simply asks the Scribes and Pharisees for one person among them, who fully followed the provisions of Deuteronomy 22:22-4 without fault, to cast the first stone. Since none of them followed proper procedure (because they captured the woman and let the man go), Jesus caught them in their own trap. Little wonder why they left the scene (John 8:9).

What is ironic about all this, is how people who never exert themselves to actually read the Bible, find it so easy to pull these passages out to justify their behavior. It should remind us that knowledge of Scripture doens’t necessarily mean one knows its author. You will recall that even Satan knew his way around Holy Writ when he endeavored to get Jesus to sin during His temptations.

The next time someone trots out that tired old canard to defend their indefensible actions, check to see if you have followed procedural justice and made sure of your facts etc, then if you have, smile and (figuratively speaking) throw the rock.

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