Jesus often comes into conflict with the scribes and pharisees. One such example is the story of the woman caught in adultery. They bring her to Jesus for a judgment. Should the woman be stoned, as is prescribed by Mosaic Law, or not?
They are setting a trap for Jesus here. If he says to let her go, he would be accused of violating the Law. If he says to stone her, he would be violating the dictates of mercy and compassion, which guided his life.
Jesus writes on the ground for a while. Perhaps he is doodling to indicate his boredom with the group in front of him. He finally asks them to look into their own heart and for the sinless among them to cast the first stone. These self-righteous ones have perhaps on this occasion realized that they are not as perfect as they liked to believe. One by one they drifted away.
Jesus does not allow the woman to be used as a pawn in their game. He shows respect and compassion for her. The response of Jesus in this story demonstrates the ever-present and available mercy of God to all of us. The accusers of the woman were sinners themselves, only they didn’t know it. During this season of Lent we are invited to look into our own heart and avail ourselves of God’s ever-present mercy and in turn offer that mercy to others.
“From the deceitful and cunning rescue me, for you, O God, are my strength.” (Psalm 43:1)