The Last Man Standing
The crowd watched in silence as the scene played out before them. Moments earlier they were sitting, listening to the words of the teacher. Now they waited expectantly for His response. The challenge hung out there waiting. Would He handout the judgment that Moses, in the law commanded? Would His next words be “Stone her?”
The object of the challenge, a woman, huddled in fear as she sat whimpering at the feet of the Teacher. The Scribes and Pharisees stood behind her, facing Him, waiting, backs straight, anger, judgment and condemnation filled the air as they spoke and pointed at the woman on the ground in front of them.
Jesus standing calmly before them met and held the gaze of the Pharisee who had asked the question, “But what do you say?” The longer His silence lasted the more you could feel triumph fill the group of men who had issued the challenge. Now they would be able to discredit Him with the crowds of people who followed Him. The trap was working.
Jesus began to move, He stooped to the ground and the crowd held its breath as His hand moved towards a rock. Many of the men standing accusingly before him bent, grabbed up stones, thinking they had won. Instead the Teacher just moved the stone out of the way, brushing his hand back and forth on the ground, clearing a spot. Then he began to write as though the question hadn’t been heard. The stunned men grew angrier and more indignant at both his actions and His continued silence. Once again they demanded that He be the one to handout judgment upon the woman.
Jesus reached out, took the largest of the stones that He had brushed aside and set it next to the sobbing woman. He stood and finally spoke for the first time since the arrival of the angry men. He pointed at the stone and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone.” He then stooped back down and continued to write.
The oldest of the group, standing directly in front looked up from the writing, to the stone and then met the penetrating gaze of Jesus. His body told the story. The anger, the judgment, the condemnation, and all the righteous indignation at the actions of Jesus left his body. His shoulders slumped and his gaze turned to the ground as he turned and made his way slowly through the crowd, avoiding eye contact with the others as he went.
Amazement passed through the crowd. They pushed forward trying to get a glimpse at the words written in the dirt. Slowly, one by one the stones dropped as the reactions of the first man echoed their way through the crowd of angry men until no one was left except Jesus and the accused woman.
Jesus rose and looked at the woman. Once again He spoke. “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” With relief and amazement she responded and said, “No one, Lord.”
It was then, Jesus, as the last man standing and the only one among them who was without sin, bent, picked up the stone and with love and compassion reached out and gently placed the stone in her hand. She looked intently at the cold stone she now held. Her grip on it tightened as her glance turned and she looked fully into the face of Jesus, tears streaming down her cheeks.
He had been asked to speak judgment and condemnation and instead, as His next words were uttered He gave her a new life, now filled with hope. The onlookers watched in amazement as she turned to leave and instead of a seeing a broken woman, full of shame and humiliation, they witnessed the transformation as those incredible last words took hold in the her heart. The forgiveness she had been given and received gathered strength within her and became evident to everyone as she left the scene. From this moment on, the reputation of her past was not the confident, outgoing, loving woman they would come to know in her future.
Who knew that such a simple statement could wield enough power to change a life! “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
NKJ – John 8:3-11
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