Christ went to the temple early one morning. A crowd gathered together, ready to hear the day’s sermon. Suddenly, the peaceful morning quiet was broken by men laughing and the shouts of a woman. Jesus stopped teaching to look in the direction of the sound, and soon saw a group of Pharisees dragging a woman between them. Tears streaked her face as she struggled to get free, but the men ignored her desperate pleas, mocking and pulling her toward Jesus.
They roughly released her at the feet of the Master. Jesus looked at the men, with sadness and disapproval. A Pharisee stepped forward and declared with great confidence, “Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The Law of Moses clearly states that a woman like this must be stoned to death. But what do you say we should do?”
The Pharisees smiled at each other, proud of their trap. They knew that if Jesus said to show mercy, He would be publicly disobeying the Law of Moses. If He said to stone her, this merciful healer would seem cruel and unkind. There was no way for Him to answer without disappointing the watching crowd.
But to their surprise, Jesus said nothing. He only bent down and drew in the dirt. It was as if He hadn’t heard them. Angry now, the Pharisees raised their voices and asked Him again and again, would He have her stoned, or would He disobey the Law of Moses?
Jesus stood tall and looked at the conspiring men.
“Whichever of you is clean from sin, you get to throw the first stone at her,” He said, His eyes meeting each of the accusers one by one. He then crouched back down and continued drawing in the dirt, acting again as if the Pharisees weren’t there.
The Pharisees were stunned. They could not help but let their guilt show on their faces. One by one, starting with the highest ranked Pharisee, they left the temple without another a word. Sensing that they were alone, Jesus stood back up and looked at the woman. She was lying crumpled in the dirt, her cheeks still wet from tears of humiliation.
“Woman, where are the men that accused you? No one has sentenced you?” He asked her.
“No one has, Lord,” she replied, uncertainly. Jesus extended her His hand.
“I do not sentence you either. Go, and do not repeat your mistakes,” He said, pulling her up from the ground.