#Retrospective — This post originally published April 29, 2020.
Ahead of me I noticed a man crouched, sitting in the center of the temple court staring down at the floor.
“What are looking at?” I asked as I stepped next him, looking over his shoulder to see what could cause him to concentrate so hard on the ground by his feet.
The man remained silent, continuing to stare at the ground. I crouched next to him and looked at him. Slowly his head turned to gaze at me with a somber expression. “I came to watch them stone her,” he uttered in a raspy voice.
I eyed the leathery skin on his face, the deep wrinkles that told of a hard life. Tears formed in his eyes.
“I could not stop them from punishing her. She broke our law. She was caught in the act. There was no question of whether she did it.”
“What are you talking about?” I pressed him.
“The scribes and Pharisees brought this woman caught in adultery to this man teaching in the courtyard. They asked him what he thought about it, reminding him the Law Moses says she should be stoned.”
“What? Were they testing this guy. If she was caught in the act, everyone knows what the law says should be done.”
“Yeah, they were testing him alright.”
“What did he say?”
The man smiled and shook his head as he looked into my eyes. “At first he said nothing, he just bent down and wrote on the ground.”
I glanced at the ground in front of him — at what was scrawled out.
“He did that?” I asked, pointing to the ground.
The man nodded yes as he glanced at the ground.
“Did he respond?”
“Oh, those scribes persisted until he finally answered.”
“And how did he respond?” I persisted, anxious to hear what this man said.
The man smiled. “It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. He stood up and said, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Then he stooped back down and resumed writing on the ground.”
I stared at him, then the ground. It was an astounding thing to say to those scribes and Pharisees. I stared at the man as he sat silent. “What did they do?”
The man pressed his lips together, sat silent for another moment, then said, “They began to leave one by one, first the older ones, until it was just him and the accused woman. I felt awkward standing there, some distance away, but I knew if the older ones left I should follow their lead. I felt guilty being there.”
“Everyone just left?”
The man nodded. “As I turned to leave I heard him speak to the woman. I turned around and saw him say to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ Then the woman said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And he said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.’”
“She called him ‘Lord?’ Who is this guy?”
“Jesus,” the man said as he turned to look at the writing on the ground.
“The guy who claims to be the Son of God?” I asked.
The man sat silent and nodded.
I had heard about this Jesus. I looked at the scrawling on the the ground and wondered if the finger of God had made those marks. “And who are you?” I asked the man.
We looked at each other as he swallowed hard. “I’m the man she was caught with.”
#WednesdayWalk Through the Bible — an exploration of what unknown people might have seen or felt when they witnessed the events in the Bible. This post is from the perspective of a man who saw Jesus interact with the scribes and Pharisees when they brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery, based on John 8:1-11 (NASB).
© 2020 CGThelen