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However, since they persisted in asking Him, after He unbent Himself,

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He said to them, “The one among you who is without fault, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.”


However, since they kept asking for His opinion, he raised Himself to an upright sitting position once again and said to them, “Let the one among you who has not done anything deserving death be the first to throw a stone at her.”



This word comes from two words, the preposition “again” used in the sense of a reversal of a previous action, and the word “to bend,” thus “to unbend.” It is often translated with phrases such as “to lift himself up, to rise up, to straighten up,” but its most basic idea is to “unbend.” In this account it can mean that He stood up, or that He simply unbent Himself by resuming an upright sitting position. I think it was the latter because He had been teaching the people, and the ancient Jews sat in the Moses seat to teach in the synagogues, and if they were not in a Synagogue, they sat on whatever they could in order to simulate sitting in the Moses seat. These religious leaders had interrupted Jesus’ teaching session but in reality, He was still teaching, for He would teach them something they did not expect to learn.


When Jesus spoke the words about whoever was without sin, His antagonizers should have realized He had turned the spotlight away from the woman and onto them.

Here Jesus was saying something akin to this: “You ask if I am willing to serve as judge in this case. If I render judgement against her, I will also do so against you. If any of you have done something worthy of the death penalty, you will also suffer the same fate, for just as you are unwilling to show this woman mercy, I will not show you any mercy.” By saying this He was turning the attention away from the woman and placing it on those making the accusation. Jesus is indeed the one who will judge all men, but that was not His purpose during His life on earth in a human body.

He acknowledged here that He saw the game they were playing and did not consider it a proper thing to do. It was trickery, and therefore wrong. Also they were not following the Law fully because they did not bring the man, even though some of them had caught the offenders in the act.

Jesus did not set aside the law, but He pointed out that if the law were applied equally to all, they would also deserve the death penalty. In His statement He acknowledged that the Former Covenant gave no means to atone for willful acts of sin done in full knowledge of their sinfulness. That was a huge gap in the sacrificial system of the law. If someone committed a defiant sin rather than an unintentional sin, there was no sacrifice for that sin; all he could do was throw himself on the mercies of God. Link to OT Study lesson. Mercy was at the heart of their question. They had seen how kind and merciful Jesus was and they wondered if He would put mercy above the high standard of God’s holiness. They thought those two things pulled in opposite directions, but Jesus showed a perfect balance between holiness and compassion. They saw compassion as a weakness; Jesus showed that it is one of God’s greatest strengths. Jesus was also saying, “I won’t stop you from stoning her, but in God’s eyes, if you were to follow through with this (which the Romans would not let them do), you would be shining a spotlight on the many other sins you yourselves have committed which also deserve God’s punishment of death.”

Jesus’ words did not mean that someone had to be faultless to serve as a judge, for no man would ever qualify. However, when someone acts as a properly appointed judge, he is acting on God’s behalf to enforce God’s law. The focus is on God’s law, which those making these accusations could not say they had fulfilled without error. In fact, no one could fulfill the law without error because it was not designed to save but to show the need for a savior.