RELIGION COLUMN: He’s there, without a stone

Published 10:49 am Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By Jake McCall

The other night, my 4-year-old daughter received my attempt at an explanation of the power of and the difference between mercy and grace.

You know the script: “Mercy is not getting that which you deserve‚ (insert example); grace is getting that which you do not deserve (insert example).”

After I talked about it for a while, she just said, “I think I just like grace more.”

So maybe I will try again when she is 5.

As an adulterous woman is surrounded by men who are clinching stones and ready to exercise their lawful authority, Jesus perfectly displays both the power of and the difference between mercy and grace.

In John 8, a group of Scribes and Pharisees present this real-life scenario to Jesus declaring to him that the Law of Moses commands that a woman caught in adultery is to be stoned.

Jesus famously responds to this religious mob in John 8:7 through this invitation: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

One by one these angry men leave the scene, most likely dropping their stones.

But standing there still is Jesus. There remaining is the one man without sin. The one with the power and the right to condemn this woman stays, but he is without a stone.

He says, “Neither do I condemn you.” Did Jesus owe her this pardon? No, but this woman received mercy. This scene then ends with Jesus saying, “Now go and sin no more.”

How was Jesus able to send a prostitute away with such a command? It is because her encounter with Christ gave her freedom.

She was no longer in bondage to the Scribes and Pharisees, and she was no longer in bondage to adultery. She had been made new by the power of Christ.

Did Jesus owe her this new life? No, but this woman received grace.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church.