A year ago March, I went up to a lake in North Georgia for a week with my children. It was one of those perfect weeks of simple, slow-paced fun. We did puzzles on the screened porch, played games in front of a fire and skipped rocks from the dock on the lake. It was the skipping rocks that brought the biggest smile to my heart and made me think, “Could anything be better at this very moment?” Chad was a little too young to really understand how to throw the rocks properly to get a good skip, but the ample supply of perfectly flat pieces of rock near the dock allowed Ellie to find consistent success. It was thrilling to count the number of hops each rock would take and a fairly addictive sport.
Unfortunately, I have rediscovered my utter delight in rock throwing lately in the direction of people around me, near me or even who stand at an unassuming distance. My supply of easy to succeed rocks is unlimited and the targets seem wide and too easy to hit…its an addictive sport.
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:3-7
The woman was a wide target. There was no excusing what she had done nor any way to sanitize it or rewrite it into something acceptable or even beautiful. She had directly broken the Law, morally and socially. The judgment of the people was indeed just.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. Romans 3:25-27
Did Jesus send the people away with a message of tolerance of sin? I don’t think so. His point wasn’t “Hey, we all have issues so let’s not be so judgmental.” Instead, the Gospel tells me that my issue is deeply infested and infectious sin and that I am equally and justly deserving of condemnation as the easy targets around me seem to be for my rocks. But it goes further to tell me that I (and all my targets) have another target for our justice rocks: Jesus. More than that, He has not just taken my deserved injuries and left me with the shame of the whole experience, but He has covered my shame in the extravagant robes of His righteousness. Will I not see these robes covering the shameful, condemnable sins of my targets as well?
So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’ “Esther 6:7-9
If the King delights in me, whose sins He has covered and replaced with His righteousness, and has done this for all of His children, may I not begin to view others with this same honor with which God cherishes them? How different might my love of people begin to be if I gazed not on their shame alone but on the promise of their honor and restoration? Would my delight in pointing out people’s shame be transformed into a delight in pointing out their honor, Christ’s honor covering them. Would God gently replace my stoney heart with His perfect love, which is just and the very same one that justifies those who are in Christ Jesus!?!