She had been kicked to the curb more times than she could remember. The religious zealots threw her at the feet of Jesus. They had caught their prey in the very act of adultery, or so they said. They wanted her stoned to death and they wanted Jesus to do it. If he would, he could be part of their home team. Their popularity was in the tank. Jesus was a threat. Surely, he would stone her. They confidently stood stone-ready. Dressed in indignation they had gathered a crowd of the like-minded, empty hearted pompous types.
Jesus scribbled in the dirt. What? Come on Jesus, get with the program. She’s a whore. We caught her red handed in broad daylight. ‘What would Moses do?’, they railed. But no. Jesus kept scribbling, writing words that forced the self-appointed judges to come closer. They squinted to read the writing in the sand. The man before them exposed them. His scribbles rattled their cages. Likely in the sand they read their dirty little secrets. Their exposure was humiliating. Truth stripped them naked.
There were two layers of people awaiting the verdict. The religious zealots had interrupted Jesus that morning as he was teaching in the temple courts. Imagine, if you will, the woman grief stricken with shame surrounded by her accusers and Jesus plus an outer circle of Jesus followers encasing the whole charade.
Jesus pushed a different agenda forward than expected. ‘Let’s have the man who has never had a sinful desire throw the first stone’, He chided (Matthew 8:7 PBT) The zealots loosened their grip on the treasured stones clinched in their hands. They searched frantically for an escape hatch. Jesus bent down again, more scribbling in the sand. Their guilt was suffocating. One by one, beginning with the eldest, they dropped their stones. Humiliated, they faded into the crowd. As they made their exit, they heard Jesus ask the woman: ‘where are your accusers?’ Perhaps a muffled chuckle vibrated through the remaining crowd.
The accused took inventory of the crowd and quietly replied ‘I see no one, Lord’. Extending his hand to lift her up, Jesus assured: ‘Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.’ She stared deeply into the eyes of her deliverer and quietly walked away.
The remaining crowd processed the illustrated talk before them. There was certainly more than enough guilt to go around. There always is. What most crowds have in short supply is mercy! Hopefully, they made a note of it. Hopefully we do as well.