TITLE: Caught and Released
By Jess Godwin
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They herded me down the street, a few men gathering up stones as they followed. Caught. I can’t believe that I was so stupid. I should have realized that old what’s-his-name was only interested in me as live bait. Anything to catch the new teacher in a trap. I wish they’d just stone me and have it over with. I deserve it. Why bother taking me to Jesus? They’re just going to stone me anyway. I wish they were taking me to anyone but him.
“Teacher, we caught this woman in the act of adultery.”
He didn’t say a word when they shoved me down at his feet. I guess they forgot that someone can’t exactly commit adultery alone.
Jesus drew something in the sand. I couldn’t bring myself to look at him. There was something about the way that he looked at me that shook me up inside. It was like he knew everything I’ve ever done, but like he knew the person I was before any of this happened—back when I was pure. Pure. I can barely remember what it felt like to be clean and innocent. So much has happened since then. He can’t know what I’ve done. If he did, he’d look at me with the same mixture of disdain and desire that all the other men do.
He looked at the crowd and spoke for the first time.
“If any one of you has never sinned, throw a stone.”
Silence. Slowly, the stones thudded to the ground. One by one they turned and walked away. Jesus watched them leave and when the last one was gone, he spoke to me.
“Is there anyone still here who is accusing you?”
“N—no.” I looked up slowly.
“I don’t accuse you either. Go home, and don’t sin anymore.”
He knew. He knew everything, but there was something in his eyes that I’d never seen from any man before. I’d grown accustomed to men looking at me with lust and barely restrained hatred. I reminded them of their own fallings. But this was different. Jesus looked at me with compassion and forgiveness.
He reached his hand out to help me up. I couldn’t believe that he was touching me. He was the only man in years to touch me in a way that wasn’t suggestive of something more. I felt safe, even that close to him. I knew that I could trust him with my life.
As I walked home, I felt something I could barely remember—hope. And, for the first time in years, I felt pure.
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