As was his habit, the man walked slowly, but deliberately, occasionally looking to the right or left or up into the sky, welcoming the dawn in all of its majesty. He loved morning the best in this human world, when everything looked fresh and clean and untarnished. The birds sang anthems of praise and He smiled, calling them each by name as He gently stroked their feathers, acknowledging their praise offering by the touch of His fingers.
Resolutely, He strode on, His morning visit with the Father giving Him renewed energy for the day’s tasks. He already knew that today’s temple instruction would include a confrontation with the enemy through the hardened hearts of the scribes and Pharisees. Always anxious to share His Father’s love with this blinded generation, He closed his eyes briefly before entering the temple. Groups of the common people joined together inside to hear the teachings of this authoritative prophet, who had already gained fame from His unorthodox ways and fabled arguments with their religious leaders.
He looked so plain—so ordinary—so insignificant in stature and mien that newcomers often were disappointed initially upon encountering Him. But after He opened His mouth, they became mesmerized in the novelty of His presence as He wove simple stories into relative lessons that, unlike the rigid rules and pompous strictures of the Jewish teachers of the law, were understandable. His 12-man entourage had taken their designated places closest to His side, as if by sitting at His feet, they could garner more of His knowledge and practical spirituality.
Around midday, a hush fell over the throng as Jesus paused in His speaking, some expectant that He was preparing to perform another miracle. For suddenly, a disheveled woman was being paraded into their midst, pushed along by a few Pharisees and a couple of scribes.
The tallest one, pushing her right up in front of Jesus, “This woman has been caught in the very act of adultery and, by the laws of Moses, is to be stoned to death! Do you agree with this law?”
The crowd began nudging each other in loud whispers, arguing about what Jesus would do about this obvious ploy of His enemies to disparage Him in public, some disgusted that these religious leaders had obviously laid in wait at the woman’s home of ill repute to use her for the express purpose of tricking Jesus into blasphemy. Others of the assemblage began to gather into the temple courtyard to await the spectacle of a harlot’s just reward, gathering nearby stones in preparation.
“What say you, ‘Master’,” taunted the most outspoken of the accusers, walking slowly back and forth for ostentatious movement of the long fringes at the hem of his robe which signified his great piety, “Moses’ law demands her death. As a true follower of God, surely you know this.”
Jesus ignored him, stooped down, and began writing on the ground with His finger. His authority was being challenged and everyone knew it. This was to be a defining moment in His ministry and as people wondered at His silence, He was determined to touch the hearts of these zealous hypocritical leaders.
“What say you?” louder this time.
Jesus stood up, then, carefully choosing His words,
“Whichever of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone at her.”
Again, He stooped down and wrote on the dirt. Eyes focusing on His writing, the eldest among them read,
“Do not covet.”
Instantly, he thought of Cousin Caleb’s wife, his one weakness--how many times had he imagined a night alone with her? Convicted that he had broken a commandment of Moses himself, he slowly backed away.
Surprised at his exit, 45 yr.-old Nahor frowned, looking down himself at what Jesus was now writing.
“Do not steal.”
Remembering the gold coins he had purloined from the widow paying for his advice on a legal matter, he also departed.
Jesus continued writing and the scribes and Pharisees continued to leave, one at a time, as their consciences burned within them. Finally, only the woman was left standing, head downcast, in front of Jesus.
“Woman, where are your accusers?”
“They are gone, my lord.”
“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and don’t sin anymore.”
As the people dispersed to discuss all the happenings of the day in their own homes, the disciples followed Jesus to the Mount of Olives, leaving behind His last writing in the dirt,
“Mercy is better than sacrifice.”
Scriptures from The Bible, John 8.
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