|Volume 18 Number 3 March 2016||
The incident reported in the first 11 verses of John are an attempt to trap Jesus into breaking Mosaic Law or Roman law. Mosaic Law stated that those caught in adultery were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). However, the Romans stripped the Jews of the right to perform their own executions. If Jesus condemned the woman according to the Mosaic Law, she should be stoned, but if He did then He would be turned over to the Roman authorities as an insurrectionist. On the other hand, if Jesus did not condemn her, than He would have broken the Mosaic Law, and thus He would have been a false teacher.
Whichever way Jesus took would be a win for the Pharisees, because He would either be executed by the Romans or He would be discredited. However, Jesus saw through the ploy and knew there was something fishy going on. The Pharisees were right when they spoke of the law commanding her to be stoned, but the law also taught that the man was to be stoned as well. If this woman was really caught in the act as they claimed, there should have been two standing before Jesus, not just one. When Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” He acknowledged that He was on to their scheme, and that they were just as guilty, if not more so, than the woman. Jesus never condoned her sin, as some might think. He couldn’t cast the first stone because He wasn’t a witness (Deuteronomy 17:6-7).
Don’t Judge Me!
Matthew 7:1 is one of the more well-known verses in the Bible. Most people, even if they know next to nothing about the Bible, can usually quote this verse. It’s quite a popular defense for people to use when someone tries to point out a fault. The problem is that most people who use this have no idea what Jesus was actually discussing. Thus, this Scripture has also become one of the more misused verses in the Bible.
Satan wants us to think that this verse means that we cannot point out anyone’s wrong, especially since we all have our own skeletons in the closet. All of us have shortcomings, and sometimes even the most righteous people commit sin (Romans 3:10, 23). As a matter of fact, a popular tagalong verse is John 8:7 where Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” Satan would love for us to think that we should never point out a wrong since we are not perfect ourselves. He would love for us to idly watch our brethren drift off the straight and narrow to head straight for spiritual death (Romans 6:23).
So what does Matthew 7:1 mean if it doesn’t mean that we cannot point out error? Consider the context of the Sermon on the Mount – it’s all about attitude. Verse 2 really is the key. Do we want to be condemned by those who practice their righteousness to be seen of others (6:1) and serve mammon (6:24), or do we want to be corrected in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1) and love (Ephesians 4:15)?