The Case for Stoning: A Meditation on John 8:1-11 (1998)

John 8:1-11 (New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition)

while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and, making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

(Speaker faces the congregation with a good-sized stone in hand.)

Well, there it is. You saw it right there before you, with your own eyes. You heard it straight from the Teacher’s mouth. What more proof do you need, people? What else do you need to convince you that this Jesus of Nazareth is a sham? He’s a fraud. He’s a phony. He’s soft on sin.

Look, back me up here. There’s nothing clearer in the law of Moses than this. We caught this woman in the act of adultery, for crying out loud. You’ve got it right there in front of you, haven’t you?—

(Grabs a pew Bible, indicating for the congregation to do the same. Has exaggerated difficulty trying to turn to Leviticus and balance the rock at the same time.)

—Ever notice how tough it is to read the word of God and still be ready to stone somebody?… Look, here it is, Leviticus 20:10: “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.” Yes, yes, I know, we only have the adulteress here, but half justice is better than none at all, right? And here, Deuteronomy 22:22: “If a man is caught lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman as well as the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.” Well, okay, we don’t have the man here, right now. I’m sure someone will see to that right away.

But that’s not the point. The point is, we have an obligation here! We have a civic obligation, a national obligation, a HOLY obligation to purge the evil from our midst! There it is, right in front of you, in black and white—and this Jesus character, this guy who a lot of you are following even if you won’t admit it—and we know who you are—this Jesus is completely undermining our values. I mean, look at it! There’s nothing here (indicates Bible) in the law of Moses that says you have to be without sin before you carry out your holy obligation to kill adulterers! Am I right? Am I?!

So what are we waiting for? What are you waiting for? Let’s get on with it!

(Gets no response from congregation. A beat.)

You know, you’re exactly what’s wrong with people today. Lack of commitment. Lack of values. I mean, in my day, if someone deserved stoning, we stoned ‘em. There weren’t any grubby, free-lance, freeloading teachers wandering the countryside, telling people who they could and couldn’t kill. He’s a fake, a fraud, a loser. And as far as I’m concerned, anyone who follows him is the same thing. When stones are outlawed, only outlaws will have stones. I have the scriptures to back me up. What do you have except this peasant from Nazareth and a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings that leave adulteresses free to walk the streets?

So go ahead and follow your Jesus if you want to. But when I see sin, believe me, if a stone needs throwing, I’m going to throw it. How about you?

Notes: First performed at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Delaware, March 29, 1998

©1998, 2022 by Lee Krähenbühl/StoryDwelling Publishers. All rights reserved.

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