Replacing Judgment with Love

It was an adulterous encounter. Dishonorable, wrong and sinful, then interrupted by several men. Imagine the embarrassment and shame. She was caught in the act of adultery so we can assume she was minimally dressed, if any clothing at all. I’m sure she did not go willingly. A brutal and humiliating scene as sin was exposed.

She was taken by the religious leaders and brought in front of a group of law-abiding citizens, where Jesus was teaching.

Let’s pause here. I would die! I mean, to be caught in the act of adultery and brought before a crowd. And to top it off, Jesus was there. Think about an embarrassing sin you’ve committed. What if you were caught in that sin and presented to your church? That thought is mortifying!

In John 8:4-5, the religious leaders said to Jesus, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

If I didn’t know Jesus, I would expect a huge reprimand here. I mean, she did break the law. No question, she was caught in the act of adultery. There’s no gray area, she sinned.

Jesus stayed calm. He bent down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Complete silence. Can you imagine the tension? And, then He had an amazing, loving and surprising response.

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

One by one, the crowd walked away. Only Jesus and the adulterous woman remained. In verse 10, Jesus said, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

She answered, “No, Lord.”

Now, in this moment, Jesus could’ve thrown the first stone. Jesus was the only person who lived a sinless life. He was “justified” under the law because stoning was a consequence for adultery. But, He didn’t.

Jesus replied, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Another life changed by Jesus. He replaced rightfully-earned judgment and condemnation with love. He substituted guilt and shame with a story of redemption. He is a God of second chances.


The religious leaders wanted the woman stoned and humiliated. Jesus was more forgiving, He showed compassion, mercy and love. Jesus forgave and transformed her life. In only eleven verses, we learn a major life lesson – don’t throw stones at others. Judge less, love more.

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34


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