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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Pen is Mightier than the Sword (04/08/10)

TITLE: Glass Houses
By Kate Oliver Webb


The woman’s screams could be heard throughout the neighborhood. Ah, so it begins.

Word had gotten around the city—as such stories did in such times and places—that there would be a confrontation that morning between the Temple leaders and the man whom his followers referred to as the prophet. Some said that this time the leadership had the perfect situation with which to trap the imposter. Others, although not expressing such views openly, claimed that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed a prophet of God, and that try as they might, the religious establishment would fail to trip him up.

But regardless of viewpoint, the fickle hearts of the people allowed curiosity to overcome good sense, and the crowd which had gathered in the Temple that morning was huge.

Some had come—openly, honestly—to hear the rabbi teach. His reputation preceded him. Not only could the man mesmerize crowds with his messages, but he was known to perform incredible acts of healing, overcome demons, and restore unbalanced minds to sanity. The negative reaction of the legal teachers and Pharisees of the Temple had also become gossip fodder: the city seemed on the brink of the most volatile uproar the region had ever seen.

There were details of this story which defy reason. It was those very religious leaders who were at the center of the melee involving the screaming woman. They had actually gone into the private rooms where she was, evidently, engaged in the act of adultery. How the religious leaders knew where to go, or what the situation was, is not revealed. We can only guess at the unsavory possibilities: perhaps one of their own was the man with whom the woman lay; it may have been a paid informant who spurred the Pharisees to action.

But here they came, dragging the now silent and humiliated woman to the feet of Jesus, literally interrupting his teaching that morning.

There was an audible murmuring among the watching crowd, but the voice of the pious ring-leader rang out above the buzz: “Teacher, we’ve just caught this woman in the very act of adultery!”

We can see the self-righteous, smug expression on the face of the accuser as he looked around the crowd, seeking approval. Only from his cohorts was his support visible. On the faces of those who had gathered to hear Jesus he read a range of emotions: surprised annoyance at the interruption; disbelief that the Temple leaders would so disrupt the holy place by dragging a sinning woman there to be gawked at and scorned; embarrassment and pity for the helpless woman who obviously was alone and forsaken by a supposed lover; piqued curiosity at what the Master might now do in the face of the obviously treacherous accusers.

“You’re familiar with the Law, teacher,” the man spoke in a silkily respectful tone. “Moses commanded that such a woman is to be stoned. There is no question that she is guilty, for we found her in the very act. So, what do you say? Should she be stoned, as Moses decreed?” Mentally rubbing his hands together in raw and obscene expectation, the man awaited Jesus’ verdict.

But Jesus was silent.

Calm in the face of this obvious trap, Jesus stooped down and began writing with his finger in the dirt of the Temple courtyard. Necks craned to see what was written. The accusers’ circle drew closer and continued questioning him. Still he remained silent, his finger marking the dust.

Then Jesus stood. “All right,” he nodded. “I’ll leave it to you: if any one of you is completely without sin, you may throw the first stone at her.”

And again he stooped and began writing in the courtyard dirt.

Imagine how quiet it got then! And then the small sound of a “thud” as a stone dropped softly from the hand of an accuser, and he crept away in shame. Another “thud” followed, then another. The murmur of the watching crowd began again as the disgraced Temple leaders disappeared—one by one, the eldest first. When they had all retreated, Jesus straightened up and spoke tenderly to the woman at his feet.

“Well, look around! Do you see anyone accusing you now? Is anyone condemning you?”

In a voice trembling with surprise and gratitude, she replied, “There’s no one, sir.”

“And I don’t condemn you either, my friend. Only, go now, and reject the life of sin you’ve been living.”

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This article has been read 548 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/16/10
I like the title. it's perfect for the story you told. You brought me right into the times with your details and descriptions.
Brenda Shipman 04/17/10
This was so well done. You grabbed me immediately with that great opening line, then held me all the way through. Great pacing, description and tone for the topic. Loved this retelling!
Patricia Herchenroether04/19/10
Nice retelling of a familiar story. I picture some missionary reading this to a class of new believers.
Beth LaBuff 04/19/10
Clever title for this Biblical story. You've brought this story to life. Very nice!
Carol Penhorwood 04/20/10
Well done and an obvious message to all of us!
Gerald Shuler 04/21/10
My stone drops to the ground with a thud. I see nothing wrong with your glass house.
Sarah Elisabeth 04/21/10
This piece really engaged me. It kept me reading through, and even though I knew the ending, you still wrote it powerfully!

A couple of things I could point out (since I was trying to pick over it as I read):

Be careful to stay in one point of view. In the sentence about the accuser "mentally" rubbing his hands together almost switched to his pov, and threw me off a second. And also (I'm being picky) but I think it would be good to avoid exclamation points unless it's in dialogue. Or so I've been told and tend to agree with. Build your sentences with such strength an exclamation point is not needed.

Hope that wasn't too much red ink ;-)

Biblical fiction is so hard to write and you did a very fine job! Kudos!
angelos2 wark04/22/10
A powerful retelling of a Bible story that never grows old.
I am new to the writing field, so I dare not critique to heavily in matters of grammar.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I thought that the one Exclamation mark was used well. Just my humble opinion.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece.