The one caught in sin was humbled and humiliated. Head bowed, trying to cover herself. Although she wasn’t asked for a defense, she couldn’t have offered one anyway.
The ones accusing were religious. Their failures were in areas not as apparent to the human eye. Although they were equally guilty in their own ways, they held stones and welled up with condemnation.
The One questioned remained calm. He knew what the Law required. Although his heart ached over the sin exposed, it also burned over their sin ignored.
We all love the answer given. “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first one to throw a stone.”
Notice that answer was not given by the one caught.
Guilty is guilty. Defensiveness does not change the facts. Attempting to shift the focus to the sin of others does not erase the guilt. Indeed, a repentant, humble, and contrite heart would not be so arrogant.
The answer came from Jesus.
And, if we are truly going to be Jesus to the caught, it is our responsibility to defend them against self-righteous accusers. Those who are willing to condemn and judge, but are unwilling to come alongside in love and help restore.
Did Jesus condone the sin of the caught? Of course not. “Go now and leave your life of sin” was the charge. As is ours. There’s no “getting off the hook” there. Repentance was expected, and consequences were likely to follow – in this case, possibly pregnancy and/or divorce, assuring that the scars would remain for the rest of her life.
But there was also protection. The one caught would not be left vulnerable and exposed. The One who loved scattered the accusers and restored dignity.
Perhaps that’s where we fail most often…