Will you cast the first stone?

John 8 1-11

Church HypocritesThere is a church in Cape Town has a huge sign outside it, says: This church is not full of Hypocrites,
There's ALWAYS room for more. Jesus saves us from our own Hypocrisy and then the times of the services.

I have heard it said so often by people who don’t go to church – people who go to church are hypocrites. They think they are better than us.

What does hypocrisy mean? The Oxford Dictionary says: The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behaviour does not conform;

But the truth is that we know we are NOT perfect, we know that we sin that we fall short of how God wants us to live our life and we know that we need to be forgiven.

If we look at the cross what do we see? Do we see perfect people gathered around it? Or do we see real people? People who know their lives aren’t perfect..

Jesus was at the temple, people were gathered around him and he was teaching them. The Pharisees brought a woman who had committed one of the worst sins in the eyes of Jewish Law. When someone had sinned as she had done, it was the law that stated she was to be brought to the Temple and be stoned. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus yet again so they could bring charges against him. But Jesus knew what they were trying to do… so he stooped down and began writing in the dirt. We don’t know what he was writing, or why. The Bible doesn’t tell us..

The woman just stood there, she didn’t say anything. She didn’t try and say I am innocent. She was quiet. Those gathered around Jesus asked him questions, but Jesus didn’t say anything.

It was almost as if he was gathering his thoughts together..

Eventually, Jesus stood up and he said to them “Whoever is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” The he stooped back down in the dirt and carried on writing.

Those gathered were surprised at his words they looked at each other. He didn’t look at them. When he did look up again they had all gone. I assume that included the Pharisees who brought the woman to Jesus. Maybe Jesus’ words had reached into their hearts too. We don’t know.

But we do know that Jesus stood up and said to the woman “Woman, where are they? Has no-one condemned you?” “No-one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (NIV Bible)

The Pharisees judged the woman, brought her to be killed. The people gathered believed the Pharisees and judged her. They all pointed their fingers at her. I wonder if you have ever judged anyone else? Have you ever pointed your finger at someone else?

There is a saying "Remember, when you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you."

Jesus was trying to teach us a lesson today. That none of us is perfect.

‘That we are not to point at people, but to point people to God.’

We can be so busy pointing at other people’s faults that we fail to see our own and it’s then that God asks us “Who are you pointing at?”

God wants us to look at our lives first – what do we need to come to the cross for?

If you and I are both honest there will be something. We are not perfect. But God calls us to the cross so that he can tell us the same words he said the woman:

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (NIV Bible)

He forgives us.

This is a good passage for both children and adults, and perhaps a good passage for a family service. Acknowledging that we are not perfect is something we all have to learn to recognise..

We have a choice do we want to be like the Pharisees or do we want to be like the people who walked away. In walking away they recognised that they were also people who sinned. Not one of them wanted to throw the stone.

If you were there would you throw the first stone?

Would you point a finger?

Everyone today should have a stone - place it somewhere you can see it every day as a reminder of Jesus’ words.

In Sunday school perhaps you could colour the stone and draw a cross on it.
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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