A Stone’s Throw From Help

So, this morning I was thinking about how we all love the story about Jesus defending the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned by the self-righteous crowd. Remember that story?

There she is, standing alone (despite the fact that she couldn’t have committed adultery alone) and the crowd is ready to put her to death. Her guilt is sure. They are within their legal, cultural and religious rights to take action. They turn to Jesus looking for approval because if anyone knows the rules, He should.

Jesus knows more than the rules, however. He knows what is in their hearts. So he tells them, “Let him who is without sin among you, cast the first stone.” One by one, they drop their stones and walk away.

And we in the modern age stand and cheer! Go Jesus! You nailed ‘em! The self-righteous sons of (well, you know.). Anyway, rock on, Jesus. You know how to put the judgmental religious hypocrites in their places.

But, as Paul Harvey says, there’s more to the story. “Only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “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.”

What’s that? “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Did Jesus just call her a sinner? Oh, yeah, baby. Because that’s what she was. She couldn’t have thrown a stone either.

OK, so back to us. Like I said, we love this story but I’m not sure why since it illustrates a point that we hate to acknowledge in 2009 – we are ALL sinners.

That’s right. I said it. I called you a sinner. I resurrected that archaic word that you’d like relegated to the pulpits of yesteryear along with its companions “hell”, “damnation” and “repentance”. Man, one thing we modern American’s hate is to be called sinners or to have any of our behavior characterized as sin.

OK, sure, we have weaknesses. We’re not perfect. We make MISTAKES. We have our moments. I mean, everyone has faults. But, we’re in recovery. We’ve made resolutions. We’re in therapy. We’re trying. We’ve been under stress. Our whole family is like this. We’ve signed up for a retreat, a conference, a seminar, a program. We’ll fix this. Back off, it’s not like we killed anybody. We’re not hurting anyone. Don’t worry, man, it’s all good.

But it isn’t. It’s sin.

And we know it.

See, if we’re going to cheer Jesus on when he says “Let him who is without sin among you, cast the first stone.” then we’ve got to acknowledge that we’re standing in that crowd and that makes us sinners. Even if we identify with the woman caught in adultery, we still wind up sinners. So, unless you think you’re Jesus, everyone else in the story had a sin problem and so do you.

Jesus knew that woman sinned. She knew she’d sinned. The angry mob was so full of self-righteousness, however, that they were blind to their own sin. Jesus wasn’t saying the woman didn’t need to change, He was saying the mob needed to change, too.

We’re the mob.

I really think that we may go down in human history as the most self-righteous generation that ever walked the planet. And yet, we are just like the ancient Israelites when Isaiah the prophet cried out “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you;” Isaiah 64:6-7a

The truth is, in 2009, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a sinner.

The answer is to take ourselves out of the blind, misguided crowd and place ourselves in the place of condemnation with the woman who was caught.

Better to be caught in our sin. Better to acknowledge that our righteous acts are like filthy rags. Better to be left alone with Jesus and find our sin recognized, named for what it is, ourselves in need of change.

Best to be left alone with Jesus and walk away forgiven with a righteousness – not our own – but one that will defend us in the end.

So yeah, I just called you a sinner. What are you going to do about it?

Believe me, you’re just a stone’s throw away from help. His name is Jesus.

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    The Conversation

  1. Andrea says:

    Sin is definitely ugly and hurts everyone! Thank GOD for HIS grace and mercy.

  2. Cheri says:

    Lori, this is a powerful and awesome post! You speak the truth without compromise, and it is right on. Thank you for your courage, for your willingness to say what every single one of us needs to hear!

    God bless you,

  3. Anonymous says:

    You have a way of sending a powerful message that sort of sneaks up on me – then – wow, she is talking about me and my life. Excellent.
    John A

  4. Tara says:

    I really like the way you put this. You can’t just say sorry, there has to be repentance. Excellent reminder to continue to repent for our sins. Yes, we’re covered by grace, but we still sin.


  5. I’m humbled by all your comments. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate each of you coming by and reading what I have to offer here. You have no idea how much it means to me. God bless.

  6. Well said, Lori. Thanks for sharing the link with me. I love the way you turned the idea of a stone’s throw and reminded your readers how near Jesus always is. May we both have the grace to stand with Him, even if it sometimes means being a party pooper. 😉

    His peace,

  7. Thank you, Jeanne. Your encouragement offered in Jesus’ name bolsters my flagging nerve!

  8. Greg says:

    And Jesus said, “Go, and sin no more.” How mean of Him to demand the impossible.