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Add no more evil to sin

A woman caught in the act of adultery is brought to Jesus to be judged. Jesus could get out of trouble in a very simple way: by inviting the accusers to address the legitimate judges. 

The court of the Sanhedrin is not more than a 100 metres away. But this would mean abandoning the woman that the defenders of public morality now consider a trophy, a prey.

For this he raises his head and says, “Let anyone among you who has no sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 

At that point the gathering does not feel so much at home: the people have been exposed. Their hypocrisy has been stripped naked. They lower their eyes, trying to look cavalier, to hide the embarrassment and shame. 

They move away, starting with the elders, the priests—says the Greek text. None remain. Jesus and the woman end up alone.

 Let us consider carefully the position of the two. The woman was standing, as was the case with the accused during a trial (v.3) and Jesus was sitting (v.2).

Throughout the dialogue the position is the same: Jesus bends (v.6), raises his head (v.7) and leans back (v.8), but always remains seated and the woman standing, “there in the middle” (v.9). 

Verse 10 of our text says, “Then Jesus stood up,” giving the idea that, to give judgment, he stood. Not so. The verb used is the same as in verse 7 and has been translated as raised his head

Jesus has remained where he was, in the position of the servant, not  a judge who looks down on those who did wrong.

He only lifts his head to talk to the woman, with the sweetness of his gaze, the tenderness of God who does not condemn anyone. 

“They’ve all gone,” the text says. So together with prosecutors, the crowd and even the disciples left. Only Jesus remained to pronounce his surprising judgment: no condemnation.

 If Jesus does not judge or condemn, then does it mean that sin is a small thing? To behave well or badly does not matter? 

No! Sin is a serious evil, because it destroys the lives of those who commit it. Nobody hates sin more than Jesus, because nobody loves people more than he does. 

However, he does not condemn those who make mistakes (and he allows nobody to throw stones) in order not to add more evil to that which the sinner has already done.

Maybe he does not condemn
now, but one day will he judge and punish his children who commit evil? 

Jesus does not say to the sinful woman: “For this time I do not condemn you.” This would be good also for purists of the first centuries. 

He says: “I do not condemn you,” neither today, nor tomorrow, not ever. And Jesus does not tolerate anyone who throws those painful and cruel stones at those bent under the weight of their own mistakes.


• Father Fernando Armellini CMF
Claretian Publications