Read the full story at BBC.
Upon reading this story, I was enraged at the men who carried out this young woman’s punishment. Her life was taken from her for an act that’s committed every day here in our country, the land of the free and home of brave (and unashamed) adulterers. Then I thought, isn’t Somalia where those pirates make their home base? A country that harbors thieves and murders, yet executes adulterers. Then I considered the strictness of Islamic law and its penal system. How could such a deed among consenting adults, one that seemingly doesn’t hurt anyone—how could it warrant such a sentence?
Then I was reminded that Jewish Law, the Torah, demands the same (see Leviticus 20). But I countered: she was divorced and he wasn’t married. No harm, right? But Paul spoke of the divorcee and confirmed that she would indeed be committing adultery (see Romans 7). So the Somali woman’s guilt is plain, and according to Scripture she should be killed.
There was a woman who found herself in a similar predicament, having committed the same crime. John, a follower of Jesus, recounts for us in his gospel the account of a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery (see John 8). In an attempt to entrap Jesus, religion scholars and Pharisees led this woman to Jesus to see what He would do. If He condemned her according to Moses’ law, then He would contradict the very message of hope He came to bring. If He overlooked her sin, then He would oppose the holiness of God, in essence abolishing the law, not fulfilling it.
Hundreds of years earlier than this, a man stood in the woman’s place. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, who conceived a child. David had her husband killed to cover up his sin, then took her as his wife. But God brought to him Nathan who pointed out David’s heinous sin. In a beautiful moment of humility and brokenness, David confessed his sin and pled for God’s mercy. God did grant mercy but with a price: it would demand the life of David’s son.
So the adulterous woman found herself at the feet of Jesus awaiting His sentence. Jesus paused, allowing the tension to build. Downcast, the woman was assured of her fate, as she cowered before the men. But then Jesus spoke and her eyes lifted and settled on Her rescuer. He said to the men, “The sinless one among you, go first: throw the stone.” One by one, the men dropped their rocks and walked away. Her accusers gone, Jesus told her He wouldn’t condemn her, that she should go and sin no more.
But what kind of justice is this? The woman is clearly guilty, yet Jesus chooses not to condemn her. How could He let her go free? The truth is, the gift of mercy given her, much like that granted David, was not without cost. The sacrifice of David’s son foreshadowed the sacrifice of God’s Son. Jesus would take the punishment for the woman. And He took the punishment for all of us adulterers that would follow.
I was appalled at the punishment of the Somali woman. It seemed excessively harsh. Yet God’s Word says the consequence for sin is death. There are no little ones and no big ones. Each infraction separates me from God and results in death. So you see, I am the Somali woman deserving of death. I should have been buried to my waist and fatally pelted with rocks. But I am also the woman Jesus freed. Because I have trusted Jesus as the one who took my punishment, I can walk away from my accusers and be encouraged to sin no more. He was taken out of the city and killed, and His death resulted in life for me. And by the power that raised Jesus from the grave, I can pursue a life without sin. Forgiven and cleansed, I am without sin, but I hold no stones to throw.