“But I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned” – Bob Dylan.
In John 8, Jesus goes to the temple—a big building made of stones where Israel was to commune with God, her bridegroom—and the Scribes and Pharisees throw a woman at Jesus’s feet, saying, “She was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?” “This they said to test him,” adds John.
Perhaps we don’t realize what a challenging test this was. Jesus said that he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.
We all advocate some sort of “stoning” for offenders of social morality. But we struggle to decipher the threshold at which we are to throw “stones,” and which sins, do in fact, push us over that threshold.
I suspect that most “liberals” would argue that the Scribes and Pharisees who threw the woman at the feet of Jesus should be stoned for participating in the systemic social injustices that lead a woman to such an action.
And I suspect that many “conservatives” would argue that those “liberals” excuse blatant sexual sins with vague notions of systemic social injustice… and should be “stoned.”
When we’re frightened and ashamed, we naturally comfort ourselves and fortify our immediate social bonds by looking for scapegoats. Perhaps, the easiest way to grow a “church” is to find a scapegoat (preferable a group of people who commit a sin that your group finds easy to resist), accuse that scapegoat of evil while affirming that your group is good and heaven will be awesome because the “scapegoat” won’t be there.
It’s the blame game. It seems to work for a time, but it doesn’t deal with evil; so eventually, everyone’s out and you’re the only one that’s in… and utterly alone—“And it’s not good that the Adam is alone;” it’s evil.
But shouldn’t someone get “stoned”?
The command to “stone” folks appears seven times in the Law of Moses. The sixth time, it’s for “sons” that are “stubborn and rebellious.” And the prophets reveal that all of Israel is “stubbornly rebellious.” The seventh time, it’s for young women that can’t prove the evidence of virginity on their wedding night. And the prophets reveal that Israel is a “defiled temple,” betrothed to the Lord.
I used to hate to read the Law and the Prophets, for it seemed that almost everyone should be stoned and would be “stoned.” But when I began to read them honestly, I realized it wasn’t “some” but “all.”
“In the fire of my jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed,” says the Lord through Zephaniah. “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against me.” That’s everyone, according to Isaiah.
I’ve discovered that if I “kind of” believe those verses, I get really anxious, begin to look for scapegoats, and feel very alone. But if I really believe those verses—that everybody must get stoned—I relax, don’t feel alone, and no longer look for people to stone.
And isn’t that why people get stoned, or drunk, or whatever—that, if only for a few hours, they might stop trying to win by making others lose, and agree to just “lose it” together?
The Prophets refer to God’s Judgment as a “cup of staggering;” it’s blood that’s wine and wine that’s blood. And “the Spirit,” “the Breath,” is in the blood.
“Don’t get drunk with wine… but be filled with the Spirit,” writes Paul.
Well anyway, the Scribes and Pharisees throw this woman at Jesus’s feet to test him. Jesus says, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” They all drop their stones, and Jesus says to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” So, did he fulfill the Law and the Prophets?
It’s like he judged all of them by not judging; as if he is the Judgment.
It’s like he didn’t stone anyone; but he is the Stone by which everyone gets stoned.
The Prophet Daniel saw a Stone, uncut by any human hand, strike a tremendous image of the kingdoms of this world. They all crumbled and blew away like chaff in the wind, but the Stone grew and filled the whole earth; it’s a Living Stone, the Cornerstone, the Foundation Stone. The Stone destroys everyone, and then everyone becomes a living temple made of living stones.
It’s not just Daniel that “sees” the Stone.
Zephaniah prophesies, “all the earth shall be consumed.” Next verse, “For at that time, I will change the speech of the people to a pure speech that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.
“All flesh shall come worship before me,” says the Lord through Isaiah. Next verse: “And they (all flesh) shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me.”
If we really believe Isaiah, it can only mean that all people will look down on the dead bodies of all people, and praise the Lord for delivering us all from our old bodies of sin and death in which we were trapped and utterly alone, that we might all praise him together as his living temple—the New Jerusalem. How could this be?
Isaiah 53: The “Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all… he (the Son of Man) poured out his soul unto death and he was numbered with the transgressors.”
We don’t need any more scapegoats, but we must all die with him to rise with him.
We must all lose our lives and find them singing his praise.
So, when did the Stone hit the kingdoms of this world such that they began to crumble and blow away?
It was when the Son of Man lifted his head on the tree and said, “Father, forgive… It is finished,” and delivered up his Spirit.
The principalities and powers of this world are all built on the blame game.
It’s a “finite game;” people play to win and so stop playing; they “live” to die.
The Kingdom of God is the “Infinite Game;” we play to never stop; everyone constantly loses and constantly wins; it is Eternal Life, Relentless Love; the End of the blame game.
At the table of the Lord, we drink from his cup and drop our stones.
With those stones, or should I say, “us”—his living stones—our Lord constructs his Temple.
And “everything is good,” for no one is alone.