“Oh God, what do I do now? They’ll kill me if they catch up to me! I must get away!”
Faster and faster she ran, dodging children and animals, overturning a cart in her desperation to escape. Startled expressions and cries of anger followed in her wake.
“Hey! Watch it!”
“Get back here! Look what you did!”
“What’s your problem, lady?”
Above them all, she heard the incensed cries of the mob that were giving chase.
“Don’t let her get away!”
“Stop that woman!”
“She was caught with another man!”
Rounding a corner, she found herself at the courts of the temple, and hindered by a large crowd. Tripping over her trailing robes, she fell, heaving, searching desperately for an escape route.
“There she is!”
“Surround her! Don’t let her get away!”
She shuffled backwards, clutching her tattered robe around her to hide her nakedness from the crowd. All conversation had stopped, all eyes were on her. Peering out from her matted, tangled hair, her eyes met and connected with those of a young man about her age.
Bent over, panting from the exertion of the chase, the young man named Joshua straightened up to catch her eyes on him. “Why is she looking at me, of all those gathered? I have no choice. The law states what is to be done in this case. I must go along with the crowd.” Feeling the weight of her gaze upon his hand, where a rock is clutched tightly in his fist, he averts his eyes.
“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses taught us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” an older Pharisee stepped forward, addressing a young man squatting on the ground in front of the crowd.
“Teacher?” Joshua questioned incredulously in his mind. “This must be Jesus, the one that everyone in town is talking about. I have longed to hear him speak and now here he is.” Eagerly awaiting his response, he attempts to ignore the gnawing feeling that the stone in his hand is growing heavier by the moment.
“Teacher?” The young woman sank further to the ground in misery. “Oh no, not him. I have heard people talk, saying He is the longed for Messiah.” Risking a quick glance in his direction, she sees that his gaze is fixed firmly on her, but only compassion shines in his eyes. She shivers, feeling naked not only in flesh, but in her very soul. Cowering even further, she presses closer to the wall, the rough stone rubbing harshly against the tender flesh of her back, abrading her shoulders through the thin cloth.
“What are we waiting on? When is he ever going to answer us?” Joshua wondered nervously. “Look at him, he seems so unconcerned about it all, writing in the dust with his finger. Why…why…he’s doodling!! Here we are, exhausted…waiting for him to speak while the sun beats down upon us, dying to slacken our thirst, and he is not even making an attempt to answer the Pharisee! We are in the right. We must be…the whole crowd of men here agree.”
“Teacher? Did you hear what we said? What is to be done with this woman? She was caught in adultery. What say you?”
Straightening for a moment, the one they called Teacher spoke quietly, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Having said that, he stooped down again, and began to absently write on the ground once more.
In the hush following this pronouncement, only one sound can be heard. Dropping his stone to the ground with a gentle thud as well, the Teacher’s words burning in his heart, Joshua turns, and walks away from the crowd. It is time to find someone new to follow.