One day as Jesus was teaching, a group of religious men dragged a woman through the crowd and flung her to the ground at his feet.
One of them said, “Master, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says she should be stoned. What do you say?”
Jesus didn’t answer, but began writing with his finger in the dust at his feet.
After a few moments, the crowd of men clamored for an answer. So Jesus straightened, looked the spokesman in the eye, and said, “Let the one who is without sin among you throw the first stone.”
At that, he leaned forward and continued writing in the dirt.
Soon, several of the older men in the crowd turned and left. Then a few more, until the entire group of religious men had dispersed and left the woman alone in front of Jesus.
He stopped writing in the dust, and straightened. He looked at her. “Woman, where are your accusers? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Lord,” she said.
“Neither do I condemn you,” he said. “Go, and sin no more.”
When the woman had left, Jesus continued teaching. But Andrew pulled Peter aside. “Did you see that?”
“You bet I did,” Peter said.
“Wasn’t it great?”
“That’s not how I would describe it.”
“Why not?” Andrew asked.
“He just let her go.”
“I know. Such grace!”
“But don’t you see what people will think?”
“No,” Andrew said.
“They’ll think Jesus endorses adultery.”
“What else can they think? He didn’t say one word about adultery being wrong.”
“He didn’t have to. Moses made that clear.”
“But he didn't take a stand against her behavior,” Peter said.
“He just refused to condemn her. He showed her grace.”
“Exactly! Without a word of confession or repentance from her. He just let her off the hook.”
“But it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance,” Andrew said.
“She doesn’t deserve his kindness, unless she confesses and repents beforehand.”
“If she deserves it, it’s not grace. Grace is for the guilty, not the righteous.”
Peter shook his head. “You’re wrong. People are going to think Jesus is soft on sin.”
“He told her to ‘Go and sin no more.’”
“And then he just let her go. Who’s going to make sure she doesn’t sin?”
Andrew’s face showed his confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“There has to be follow-up. He can’t just let her go as if she did nothing wrong.”
“He didn’t,” Andrew said. “She’s an adult. She’s responsible for her own actions.”
“That’s exactly my point! If Jesus keeps treating people this way, they’ll do whatever they want.”
“And that’s exactly MY point: they’ll WANT to follow him, and please him, because of his love and kindness…and grace.”
“But you have to take a long view,” Peter said. “I’m concerned for the reputation of the church.”
“I am, too,” Andrew answered. “And I think Jesus is, too.”
“People will say we excuse sin.”
“Or they might say Jesus forgives sin. And heals sinners.”
“You just don’t understand,” Peter said.
“I guess,” Andrew admitted.