Adele Butler- Women of Spirit: God's Justice





There are organizations like Equality Now, Women For Women International and V-Day to name a few, which are dedicated to protecting the rights of women all over the world. But long before these much needed organizations existed, there was already a human rights activist who walked the streets of Jerusalem, Galilee, Samaria, healing the broken hearted, setting at liberty those who are bruised and delivering them from terrible circumstances. He stood for equality of women and for people from all walks of life.

His name was Jesus Christ.

Over two thousand years ago, early in the morning as Jesus taught at the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had committed adultery to Him. One can picture a crowd gathered around Him and then this poor woman was thrust in the middle so that all eyes were on her. Shame and humiliation came over her and she held her head down unable to look her accusers in the face. She probably wished the ground would open up and swallow her.

The men said to Jesus, self-righteousness oozing from them. “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” Alone and with no one to defend, the woman must have resigned herself to the fate she knew awaited her. So for a while as she stood there terrified, the scribes and Pharisees kept badgering Jesus because He did not answer them right away.

Finally, He stepped in as the woman’s defence attorney and in a brilliant line of attack, He said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” That stumped the men. They hadn’t expected Him to come to the woman’s defence. They had expected Him to agree that the Law of Moses should be adhered to. This was the same man who had said that He came not to change one point of the Law and yet here He was defending a woman who had broken one of God’s commandments. They could not say anything in their own defence. Their conscience testified against them and they had no choice but to drop the matter.

History repeats itself.

On March 22, 2002, Amina Lawal, a thirty-year-old Muslim woman was sentenced to death by stoning after confessing to having a child while divorced. Pregnancy outside of marriage was sufficient evidence for a woman to be convicted of adultery according to the Sharia penal code for Muslims. The man whom she named as the baby girl’s father denied having relations with her and his confession was enough to clear him of any charges. So, although it takes two to commit adultery, only the woman was found guilty.

Amina’s accusers had to drop the charges against her because the conviction was invalid. She had already been pregnant by the time the harsh Islamic Sharia law was implemented in her home province. Her lawyer was quoted as saying, “The law of justice has prevailed over the law of man.” Amina was free to go and live her life.

After her accusers had left, Jesus asked the woman,

“Woman, where are those accusers of yours?

Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:7-11). That day the law of God’s justice prevailed over the law of man. God’s justice is different from man’s justice. In both cases the men were not charged. They were not brought to court to face charges like Amina and the woman. Both women had to face their accusers alone. They were both stripped of their rights and their dignity.

In both cases the men were misapplying the law to suit themselves. Stoning to death has been used to define the Sharia law but according to Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., “the punishment prescribed by the Sharia of the Quran is ONE HUNDRED LASHES each to the adulterer and the adulteress, in public.” The Law of Moses specifically stated, “the man that committeth adultery with [another] man’s wife, [even he] that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

In both cases, the law, which was implemented for everyone, was only applied to the two women. Under the two laws, the man and the woman should receive the same punishment. Justice is supposed to be fair not blind.

In both cases justice prevailed and both women were given back their freedom. In both cases God pointed out the corruption of the system. The guilty were perverting the law to destroy their victims. The words of King David ring true. “Justice and judgment [are] the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face” (Psalm 89:14). God had passed judgment on the accusers and had shown mercy toward the women.

The reaction of the scribes and Pharisees to Jesus’ words about casting the first stone proves that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12, 13).

The love, mercy and forgiveness Jesus showed to the woman brought to light how hateful, unmerciful, condemning and dishonest the accusers were. The stones, which they had picked up to throw at the woman, were thrown back at them in the words of Jesus because He had pointed out to them that they were sinners too. In dropping the stones they were dropping their self-righteous act and uncovering themselves, proving that nothing can be hidden from God.

After the woman and her accusers were gone, Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Jesus gave light to the woman who had been living a life that brought her nothing but heartache and shame. Now Jesus had lifted the darkness of self-recrimination from her and let her see that she could turn her life around. He showed her that he loved her and that He wanted the best for her. He showed her that she was not beyond redemption. He showed her that she was not worse than the self-righteous men who were hurling accusations at her. He was showing her that in His eyes we are all equal. And He was showing the people what true justice is. One person cannot be tried while the other gets off scot-free. The Pharisees did not want her to have a fair trial. So, Jesus the Light of the world brought to the forefront the duplicity and injustice of society.

He was the Light that shone in the darkness of men’s souls. The scribes and Pharisees, try, as they did, could not shield their desperately wicked hearts from the true Light. In what He did, Jesus was setting an example to others. No one was above reproach and instead of publicly humiliating we should first try to lead the wrongdoer/sinner to repentance and reconciliation. When He was alone with the woman, He told her to stop sinning. In effect, He was saying to her, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). He was telling her that though she was living a sinful life she could do something to change that. She was in charge of her own destiny not, the men who wanted to stone her to death.

Salvation is of the Lord.

That day, Jesus saved the woman’s life. He prevented her from being stoned to death. He had spared her life like He spared Amina’s. With a death sentence hanging over her head, Amina had placed her faith in God, believing that He would protect her. “Nothing happens without God’s knowledge or God’s permission,” Lawal told reporters in her lawyer’s Abuja garden (World News – November 2003 issue of The News International).

It was not a coincidence that the woman was brought to Jesus. Jesus knew that this would happen. He knows what we need before we know our need. He knows what we will do before we do it. He knows what we think and how we feel. He knew that those men would bring the woman to Him. And they could not have stoned the woman without His permission. Jesus was always one step ahead of them. He perceived their thoughts even before they voiced them. Nothing happens without God’s knowledge. And like Amina and the adulteress, we can all declare, “and marvellous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).


Praise the Lord, for justice and mercy come from Him.


Adele Butler, 2011


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