Casting a Stone

It is recorded in the eighth chapter of John's gospel that when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman charged with breaking the seventh commandment and, stating that the Mosaic law required stoning for this offense, asked him what they should do, he for a time seemed to ignore their question; then he replied, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." What did Jesus mean by this? Was he asking them to do that which he himself was not willing to do? Surely not. Then to cast a stone must have signified in his thought something very different from what was the intent of those who were seeking evidence upon which to condemn not only the woman but Jesus also. Had they misinterpreted the law? It is to be remembered that Abraham once thought that God told him to kill his son Isaac, but that presently he gained a higher understanding of God's will, which saved the boy's life.

In "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 285) Mrs. Eddy, speaking of the warfare with sensuality, refers to her work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" as "the book that cast the first stone." On page 447 of this book she writes: "A sinner is afraid to cast the first stone. He may say, as a subterfuge, that evil is unreal, but to know it, he must demonstrate his statement." Then may it not be true that to cast a stone signifies the demonstration of the unreality of evil,—in other words, the establishing of that understanding of Truth which destroys both the belief in evil and the practice of it? From this it would appear that Jesus' words to his questioners were not spoken in condemnation of either the woman or her accusers, but that, seeing the great need, he reminded them that to heal such a case would require a consciousness which had itself attained to spiritual perfection.

Jesus had "not come to destroy, but to fulfil" the law; and by raising the standard to that of spiritual reality, the sin and its need for condemnation were alike destroyed; for these could not exist in the pure atmosphere of that tribunal of Truth and Love. The accusing witnesses were healed of a desire to kill, and removed from participation in the case. Then, finding himself alone with the claim of a sinner, Jesus himself "cast a stone," through demonstrating the absolute unreality of any dream-sense of sin or sinner and realizing the truth about man as God's perfect idea, endowed with freedom and immortality. In this experience it was shown that the law can only be fulfilled through love, for while Moses perceived the heinousness of sin, to be punished through condemnation and death, Jesus taught the transformation of mankind by spiritual understanding. In John's gospel we read, "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

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Sowing and Reaping
February 22, 1919

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