It takes two to commit the sin of adultery. But only the woman is brought to Jesus. She is publicly humiliated by the scribes and Pharisees – made to stand in full view of the crowd. The Law of Moses prescribed stoning to death as the punishment for adultery, but by Jesus’ time, that penalty had fallen into disuse. Jesus’ opponents are setting a trap for him. Will he contradict the Law, or will he encourage the crowd to lynch the woman there and then? The accusers are full of righteous indignation. Jesus’ response shows up their hypocrisy. Not one among them is confident enough of his own sinlessness to throw the first stone.
We live in an unequal society. It is still, often, women, the poor or the powerless who are judged and condemned. As disciples of Christ, we must not be self-righteous accusers. Knowing our own need for God’s mercy, we should follow the example of the Lord, who does not condemn.