“They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left with the woman still standing there.” John 8:6-9 (NIV).
Jesus was in a sticky situation again, so they thought. He needed time to work this one out
In spite of all the speculation, no one knows why Jesus wrote on the ground or what He wrote. Does it matter? Perhaps He didn’t write anything. Perhaps He was practising His letters? Perhaps He was just doodling to let the woman’s accusers hear the sound of their own voices. Perhaps He was planning His defence. Perhaps a little bit of everything.
The religious leaders waited with baited breath to hear His response. They thought they had Him. They were gearing up to arrest Him on the spot for being a law-breaker. They had rocks in their hands, ready to carry out their ruthless sentence against the woman. They were not ready for His response!
Jesus stood up and looked at each one. He caught the gloating, blood-thirsty gleam in their eyes. He spoke directly to them. ‘Fair enough,’ He said, ‘go ahead and hurl your stones if you are not guilty.’ Then He bent down and carried on writing. He heard the crunch of sandals in the dirt. He heard the swish of robes as they slunk away, one by one. Then it was quiet.
He looked up. The woman was still lying on the ground, shielding her face with her arms. He stood up and lifted her to her feet. “Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.'” John 8:10-11 (NIV).
What had Jesus just done to save the day? He did the one thing the religious experts had forgotten. The law demanded that there be two or three witnesses to validate an accusation against an offender. He knew that He was bound by the Law of Moses to have her stoned if there were at least two witnesses who could corroborate her accusers’ story. But He also knew that, without witnesses He could show mercy and set her free.
He simply made the witnesses go away! How better to get them at their own game than to let their consciences do the work. He was willing to let them carry out their sentence if they were without sin or even perhaps just this sin. Who knows but that they were all part of the conspiracy and their consciences would not allow them to throw their stones at her knowing that they were just as guilty as she was/ As “holy” as they thought they were, they could not bring themselves to claim that they were without sin. That would make them liars to compound their guilt. They had no option but to leave!
Very smart, Jesus! How long would it take for these guys to learn that they were taking on more than they could handle when they took Jesus on. No matter what strategy they tried, they could not outwit the Son of God because He stood for truth and truth can never be overcome.
Jesus and the woman were left alone. It was His opportunity to apply His yoke to her as well. Many others had learned, through His compassion, mercy and forgiveness that the God He represented was full of kindness and love. There was no accusation, condemnation or rebuke — only forgiveness and counsel. ‘Woman, I am giving you a brand-new start. Take your opportunity and don’t blow it.’
The woman must have gone home, washed up, cleaned up and looked up, free from her burden of guilt and energised by the power of a great love to start a new life. Her encounter with Jesus would never be forgotten. She shed her old life like a butterfly sheds its cocoon, determined to live up to the words of her deliverer.
What about you?
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.