In John 8, there's a little story that's been added to the book of John that was widely accepted by the early church about a woman who had been "caught in the act" of adultery. Jesus was teaching in the Temple Courts when the Pharisees brought her out for public display. They were calling for her death.
There was something weird going on here though. If she had been caught in the act, where was the dude? It became obvious quickly these Pharisees weren't really interested in justice; they were interested in trapping and discrediting Jesus. If Jesus stood by the Law, he would be lending his consent to her death. If he disregarded the Law, they would have reason to charge him. He was between a rock and a hard place. The Pharisees were using (prostituting, if I may) this woman's soul to get at Jesus.
And it backfired on them.
Jesus bent down and began writing something in the dirt. We don't know what he wrote, but I'd like to think he was revealing the secrets of these Pharisees' hearts to show them they, too, were deserving of death. "Let him who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." One by one, they began to drop their rocks and walk away.
She was left standing alone with Jesus.
She had just been publicly exposed -- and now she was standing in front of Jesus. I wonder... did she know who he was? Did she realize she was now standing in front of the Son of God? If she did, how much more would she have been afraid of him than the Pharisees who accused her?
Jesus looked at her and said, "Where have all your accusers gone? Has no one condemned you? I don't condemn you either. Now go and leave your life of sin." He didn't affirm her sin or her choices, but he saved her life. He didn't say, "Neither do I condemn you, so it's OK if you commit adultery." Instead, Jesus re-establishes righteousness in her life.
I'm not sure why people who have met God's mercy feel the need to throw rocks. I'm also not sure why people who have met God's mercy think somehow God is OK with our choices. Jesus wants to re-establish righteousness in our lives, and this story teaches us we can't establish it ourselves.
Jesus does it.
We are guilty as charged. The crowds know it, and worse yet...we know it. And yet Jesus doesn't condemn us -- and he doesn't let the rest of us think we're good enough to throw stones.
She found mercy at the feet of Jesus. If there's no mercy for her, there's no mercy for any of us. Trust in the only One who can save us from condemnation.