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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: First Day of School (06/28/04)

TITLE: Where truth and justice meet
By Stanley McMahon


I couldn’t believe it! My first day at school and we were going to do a hands-on practical study. My tutor had promised we would be doing some exciting stuff at the rabbinical school, and here we were, going to bring a rebel into line, and at the same time, do some social work. I couldn’t wait – until I saw what was happening.

We went with the whole faculty – I felt so important – and marched up to the house of a lady who was a known…. Well, she was well known around town for being a “sinner”. One of the rabbi’s gave an order and she was roughly hauled on to the street. I had never heard such language! But then I wasn’t too impressed either by the way she was prodded and pushed and made fun of.

I was curious as to what was going to happen but I didn’t want to ask, so I just followed. After all, it was my first day at school.

We came to the temple courts, where a crowd had gathered and I assumed it was just another popular rabbi holding forth. I fully expected us to pass on by, when we actually started pushing our way through the crowd. I nervously recognised some people and hoped that they would recognise me and say something nice. After all, it was my first day at school.

But they weren’t really interested in me. In fact they seemed a bit put out by the disturbance of the school. Suddenly it all dawned upon me. I forgot my own stuff – the nervousness, the newness and the nonsensical importance of it all. Here was real life happening before my very eyes. We had arrived at the place of judgment and in a moment of brilliance, calculated by the chief rabbi and the faculty, we were going to nail a wayward woman and a rebel rabbi all at once.

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

“What could he say?” I thought to myself. I looked on with admiration. This had him stumped. That will teach the rebel rabbi, what’s his name? Oh, Jesus the Galilean. What happened next shocked me out of my smugness. He bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. I couldn’t see what he was writing because I was too far back, but from where I was standing, I could see the chief rabbi’s face changing colour to a quite pallid tone. Some of the others barracked him further but he stood up and countered, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to stone her.”

The rabbis looked each other, wondering what to do next when he started writing in the sand again. I didn’t know where to look. What was happening here? My heroes had fallen short. Our ploy to condemn had come back on us with a vengeance. The older teachers stood silently then, uncomfortably, watching painfully as Jesus continued to write. I felt so small as I saw them shamefacedly retreat, leaving Jesus and the woman. He straightened up and looked around to see the crowd had dispersed. I hung around long enough at a safe distance to hear him say to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” That wasn’t on the curriculum, but neither was Jesus. How do you encounter Jesus and come away the same person? The answer is elementary. You don’t. What a lesson to learn, what change of direction, what a Man, what a first day at school!

Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee07/05/04
Stan, this was wonderful! loved it!
Rosalind Morris07/05/04
This is a cool one :)

darlene hight07/06/04
I really enjoyed the twist on the theme. You told it well. one spelling error that I noticed but I've seen it so often on this site that I had to check myself with the dictionary 'recognise' should be 'recognize'
Melanie Kerr 07/08/04
Excellent retelling of a bible story. I toyed with the same idea for a while although my first day of school was going to take in Jesus at 12 years old in the temple. Well done!