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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: Indictment in the Dust
By Donna Powers


She deserved to die.

The Law is clear: if a woman commits adultery she is to be stoned. That’s what my men and I set out to do today.

We brought the adulteress into the temple square, just as it is written in the Law. As a Pharisee, I’ve based my whole life on the Law and on enforcing its tenets. We chose the temple square because so many people would gather as witnesses. We wanted everyone to see as we meted out her punishment. We also chose the temple because we had heard that the heretic called Jesus was there. There was talk that he had been preaching against the Law. He had attracted quite a following. I decided that this woman’s execution would be the perfect opportunity to show him for the blasphemer that he is.

I had no hesitation; I picked up a stone and directed my men to do the same. I didn’t look at the woman. I didn’t care how she felt; the writings of the Law were clear on her fate. I spoke loudly, and addressed Jesus: “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law says we must stone her. What do you say?” I had my stone raised and ready, because I was sure that nothing he said could prevent justice from being done.

He didn’t answer right away. Instead, Jesus looked right into my eyes and looked around at the rest of the men. I have never seen eyes like his. He seemed to see inside my soul; it was as if he knew every part of my heart and soul and had summed up my essence with his glance. He stooped and began to write with his finger, on the ground. I didn’t really pay it much mind at first, until he spoke: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And then he bent again and continued his writing.

I couldn’t help it. I looked at the words that he had written in the earth. He had taken his finger and formed words in the dust. I first read the words “false witness” and thought immediately about the time I had told Benjamin that the cows I sold him were healthy, when I knew they were not. My face flamed with embarrassment. I watched again as he continued to write. “Covetousness, “ I read. There was more: “dishonor to father and mother… disregard of the Sabbath…false idols…” I looked around; surely these words weren’t all for me. My men stood stunned and just as embarrassed, and I knew that the condemnation we all felt was very real.

As he continued to write, it was as if the words themselves leapt up from the dust and formed the bars of a prison around my soul. He was only scraping one finger in the dust and yet I knew somehow that the dust itself was yielding as he touched it. With each of the words a new indictment was spoken; each letter made me more and more unsure of my own righteousness. Each stroke of his finger brought me the awareness of the truths he was revealing; truths that seemed as indelibly written on my heart as the Law itself had been. I looked at the cowering woman and knew that her sin was no worse than my own. I put down the rock and turned away.

As I left, with my soul immeasurably burdened by the dust-formed words of accusation, I heard him tenderly speak to her and say “woman, where are your accusers?” I felt stopped and listened as she responded with a voice of wonder: “they’re gone.” And then he told her “I don’t condemn you either. Go and sin no more.” Weeping, she thanked him and left.

He did not leave. He stood waiting. He had seen my hesitation and looked at me again. It was as if his words to her were also a new message that he’d written for me. As clearly as I’d seen his written words before, I could clearly see the promise of a very different message. I knew that if I would also “go and sin no more”, that I, too, could have a new life. I knew that if I were to follow him I could have his message of grace permanently written in my heart.

Based on John 8: 1-11 NIV

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This article has been read 989 times
Member Comments
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Amy Michelle Wiley 01/20/07
Great job! I love Biblical fiction. I like your guess as to what the words Jesus wrote were--that makes sense.
Edy T Johnson 01/20/07
Just from the titles listed, I guessed that three of them (there may be more) were about the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultry. What I find fascinating is that three writers, like three witnesses to a crime, bring different perspectives, equally compelling, to the story. I enjoyed reading your account.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/20/07
As one of my favorite Bible stories, I was enraptured by "your" version of what Jesus wrote in the sand. I thought of God the Father writing the Ten Commandments in stone with His finger, (and also His hand appeared writing on the wall in Babylon) and then Jesus, the Son of God writing with His finger in the sand, and now you, my friend, have written of Him via the internet...for all the world to read. (if they desire) A moving story which I loved and was masterfully written. Kudos!
Betty Castleberry01/21/07
Unique take on this familiar story. I like what you envisioned Jesus writing in the sand. Well written, and well done.
Joanne Sher 01/21/07
Great detail - and I too love this bible story. I love your perspective - and your theory on what he wrote. Great stuff, friend!
Jan Ackerson 01/21/07
Great POV, and although I've often read speculation on what might have been written in the dust, this is my favorite theory.

The only weak spot, I thought, was the 4th paragraph--just not as fresh and original as the rest of this remarkable story.

And I loved the ending--just the right note.
Leigh MacKelvey01/21/07
Written well and powerfully.
william price01/24/07
Moving, powerful, well writen and anointed. Great job. God bless.
Joanney Uthe01/24/07
I love the POV of this story. It often helps to try to look at familiar stories from the viewpoint of the minor characters. You did an excellent job bringing your character and the story to life. I like how he knew the woman enough to have insight into her side of the story.
Sara Harricharan 01/24/07
This was great-held my attention all the way through, I liked seeing it from this POV, very interesting.
Loren T. Lowery01/24/07
Surely this was written with insights from the heart - you've done a great job, holding to the theme and expressing it so well.
Edy T Johnson 01/25/07
Just stopping by, again, to thank you for your comments on my writing, too. It is fun to find another nurse-writer, isn't it. [Have you been "introduced," yet, to Linda Germain? She's another nurse whose writing I love to read.] I appreciate you, Friend! I'll be looking for more of your writing, too.