But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. John 8:6b
Lord, I really wish I knew what You were writing on the ground. The word “grapho” for write means to carve or engrave something. Most of the references in Your Word have to do with the writing of Your Word. It can also refer to a symbol or the lines on a map. It’s also interesting to note that in early Greek writings “[f]rom the practice of handing in a written accusation, grapho came in judicial language to mean to accuse.” And here we are at our account today. And it all starts with an accusation.
You’ve just come from the mount of Olives. I’m assuming it was where You spent time communing with Your Heavenly Father before You started Your day. Thanks for giving me that example. I need that too. And it’s still early in the morning. You’ve come back to the temple and have sat down to teach the people who will hear. But the Scribes and Pharisees have been busy too. Only instead of spending time communing with their Heavenly Father, it seems as though they have been on another mission. It sounds as though they’ve been looking to catch someone in the act, just for Your sake. And they have. They have caught this woman in the act of adultery. I”m wondering if they had known this was going on but only stepped in because of trying to find fault in You? And why did they just bring the woman? Where was the man she was with?
I mean, Lord, here are these Scribes and Pharisees, posing as righteous, but they weren’t even playing by Your righteous rules. Well, maybe they were playing by part of the rules. They do say that Moses said that the adulteress should be stoned. But they weren’t saying it because they cared. They just wanted to catch You in a wrong answer so they could accuse You. Wow, there’s that word again. Accuse.
You just started writing on the ground. The King James Version adds that it was as though You didn’t hear them. But that’s not included in the other versions. I think You did hear them. And I wonder if You might have been writing Leviticus 20:10? “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” Whether or not she was married to someone, God always holds both parties responsible. I wonder if they stopped to look at what You were writing? Or if they were just so intent on Your verbal response they might have missed it?
But the fact remains, You were silent for a while. You didn’t answer right away. You maybe wrote an answer on the ground, etched in the dirt. Hmmm, think about that, writing about sin, a dirty thing, in the dirt. And I wonder if Your silence wasn’t because they had no right to judge and accuse. You alone are the only Righteous Judge. Only You can make right accusations.
And that’s where it leads. You stand up. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” See, there’s that thing You might have been pointing out in the dirty sand. There’s that thing known as dirty sin. Sin is sin. Partial righteousness is sin because if it’s not wholly righteous, that’s what it is. So, who threw the first stone? No one. Because they realized, “There is none righteous; no not one.” How can an accuser accuse if he is guilty too? What kind of judge is that?
Now I’m left with You, Jesus, and the woman alone. Now I’m left watching the only Righteous Judge, the only One who has the right to accuse and to pass judgement, stand before the accused. And her fate is in Your hands. And honestly, the penalty that is due is death. But where have her accusers gone? Where are the witnesses? Isn’t that interesting. I know that at least in traffic court, your case can be dropped if the officer who issued your speeding ticket doesn’t show up. And here we have a much more serious offense, and an offense against God really. But what do You proclaim over her?
“I don’t condemn You either. Go and sin no more.” “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) You treated her just like You treat us today. You alone have the authority to condemn. Only You can make an honest assessment of the heart of an individual. Well, actually, if we honestly assessed our own hearts we would come to the conclusion that none of us are righteous like You. You alone can separate or distinguish the facts and evidence in our lives justly and rightly. You alone are worthy to give an opinion over us and to judge us, no one else. You alone get to decide to finally judge us. And if it weren’t for Your mercy and if it weren’t for Your sacrifice, we would all be damned because none of us measure up without You. And that’s the thing about this condemnation, it’s always followed by a severe punishment or sentence.
But look at the amazingness of Your mercy! Look at the amazingness of Your love! Look at the amazingness of Your forgiveness! While we were yet sinners, You died for us! You didn’t come into the world to condemn us but that You would save us from condemnation. You came to set us free in You. You came to break the chains of condemnation over this woman, over the Pharisees and Scribes, and over me. You came to set us captives free, free from our own captivity and free from holding others captive in condemnation.
Lord, I am not a judge. Keep me from judging others. Keep me from condemning others. I’ve experienced condemnation and I don’t want to do it to others. But I am just as human as the next person. I need Your Spirit to constantly change me and keep a check on my heart. I want to set people free and I want to live in freedom myself. You alone are the Righteous Judge and I want to live in You. And I don’t want to live in partial righteousness. I want to love and obey all of You, all of Your Word, all of the leadings of Your Holy Spirit. I want to be merciful like You. Good thing is, that woman walked away free and uncondemned. But what about her partner in the crime? I wonder if he ever owned up to the truth about himself and stood before You or did he miss the opportunity to be free of condemnation? Lord, it’s an ambarrassing thing to lay all my sin before You. But that’s when I received my freedom. It’s a terrible thing to hold on to our sins instead. Thank You, Lord, for being You, for being different than man, for being a Righteous and Merciful Judge who purifies us and makes us right instead of condemning us. You don’t give me what I deserve and You love me with no reserve.