• Jennifer Hastings

Drawing a Line in the Sand

Updated: Oct 9, 2019


Do you ever feel like sometimes in your life you just end up at the right place at the right time? Today was one of those days for me and it changed my life forever. My husband and I were on our way to the temple when we see a large crowd gathering. I immediately know it must be Jesus teaching in the temple courts. My husband looks at me and motions for me to stay close. We weave in and out of the crowd and make our way close enough to hear the love in his voice. He speaks with such ease and authority. He quotes Moses and David as if the words are part of him. Listening to him is even better than our friends described. I’m hanging on his every word when several men march through the crowd dragging a woman. The crowd parts and they throw a dark headed lady at Jesus’s feet. She is clings to a blanket trying to cover her nakedness and sobbing uncontrollably.

“Stand up, woman and own up to your crimes." His voice is ugly and full of contempt, but immediately changes when he turns to address Jesus. "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.” He stands up straight shoulders back proud to be in charge. “In the law, Moses commands us to stone such women. Shall we stone her?”

The hairs on the back of my head stand up as I look at the girl, wait a minute... that is Dorothy. She is just a child and no doubt whoever this man is she had the affair with took advantage of her. She was probably hoping to find a way out of her family circumstances. I’m not condoning her behavior, but we have heard the rumors about these religious leaders and how they abuse their power.

They have Jesus in a tight spot. All eyes are on him. What will he say? If he says to stone her, I will be crushed. I want the peace and love he is preaching. Surely he won’t say to stone her. I couldn't bear it, she is just a child. The men already have stones in hand ready to carry out the law.

He doesn’t say anything he just bends down in front of her and begins writing in the sand. They keep asking for his opinion and he patiently continues writing. I can’t stand this tension. I want to leave, but my feet feel stuck. The only sound is the sniffling coming from poor naked Dorthy.

Jesus finally straightens up and says, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He bends down again and resumes writing.

He is blocking Dorothy from the men. I can’t watch, but I can’t look away either. He is writing on the ground right in front of her. If one of those men throws a stone, it will hit him. Then I get it, he is protecting her. His message of love and forgiveness is being played out right before my eyes. My heart leaps inside my chest with a feeling I've never felt before. I turn my attention to the Pharisees and watch their countenance change. The one who held his shoulders back all confident a few moments ago seems to have wilted before our eyes. He is hunched over and defeated. He is actually the first one to leave. He drops his stone on the ground where Jesus was writing and leaves. Then one by one the rest walk past and leave except for one young man. I wonder if I am the only one to notice. This young man stays in the crowd and tries to hide, but he is listening as we all are for what Jesus will say next.

Jesus straightened up and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" He puts his hand behind her elbow with such tenderness.

“No one, sir,” she says.

“Then neither do I. Go now and sin no more.” He says to her.

My husband takes my hand, squeezes it, and pulls me towards the direction of our home. I look into his brown eyes and see the tears swimming there. I instantly reach up and wipe my own eyes, I didn’t even know I had been crying. It was beautiful what we had witnessed. Words can't describe it and we walked home in reverent silence. I know later we will spend hours talking about it, but right now we just walk. I feel different. There is something new in my heart. There is a love that wasn’t there before and this sounds crazy, but I can feel it through my husband's hand. He has a new love too. We will never be the same after what we witnessed. I am forever changed.

Verse Reference: John 8:1-11

The bible comes alive for me when I write one of these perspective pieces. My hope and prayer is these pieces will allow you to identify with the people of the bible more and maybe see yourself in those familiar stories. These are my takeaways from this passage.

1) What did Jesus write in the sand? I've always wondered why the bible doesn't tell us. What if he was showing us that he was rewriting the law? He wrote the law in stone for Moses and maybe he was revising the law in sand. A law where his love solves our sin problem. 1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins."

2) Jesus is our protector. I almost cried when I pictured him kneeling beside her and protecting her from the law that said she was to be stoned to death. For me, when I wrote this one, this is the first time I identified with the woman. I've always known I have tendencies to judge people like the Pharisees, but I never identified too much with the adulteress woman until I replaced the word adultery with one of my specific sins. Picture yourself kneeling in the sand, your sins exposed before everyone and the God of the universe steps in and stands before you and your attackers. What a picture of his life and death...he was sent to save us from ourselves. This is exactly what he did on the cross, he protected us from our stoning we deserved and took our punishment.

3) Go and sin no more! Jesus has high expectations for us. I love how he forgave her, but he doesn't condone her sin. He doesn't condemn us for our sins, but he expects us to move away from our sins and strive to be more like him. When we picture Jesus kneeling beside us, bleeding on the cross for us, turning away from our sins is easier in the light of his example of love. I'm going out on a limb here, but I think Jesus knows she will sin again. He created us and knows we are sinners by nature, but the command was to make a change, to begin a new. Our preacher always say we strive for a new direction not perfection. With Jesus's help we can overcome our sins!

A prayer to pray...

Dear Lord,

Show me when I am like the Pharisees and bring others and their sins to you in my heart. Help me not have a tattle-tale spirit, but to allow you to be the judge for you are the only one is worthy to judge. Help me have more of your mercy and love for others.

Help me see my sin and turn away from it.

Thank you so much for your loving kindness and your ability to forgive us. You protect us. You love us. You save us.

Amen

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