You’ve heard the stories. You’ve wondered if they are true. Me, too.
- There is the story where he calmed the raging sea from the back of a sinking boat.
- There is the story of friendless lepers being touched and healed.
- There is that incident where he commanded, “Lazarus come forth!”
Remarkable stories I didn’t witness.
But I can verify this story.
I was there in the Temple. About a dozen other people were there, too. Jesus taught about God’s plan and purpose. We listened … intrigued. I had my back pressed to the wall. I tried to make sense of what he said. He said words that I’d never heard anyone else ever say. He said, “I am the light of the world.”
As I marveled at the meaning of Jesus’ words, there was sudden startling commotion. Gruff voices. Expressed contempt. Expressed hostility. All blended into a whirlwind of loud accusation.
I tensed and froze. The noise frightened me. Except for Jesus, we were all on edge.
Then the commotion appeared. The faces belonged to six or seven Pharisees and two or three Scribes. I noticed their eyes. Their eyes were filled with vile passion.
They pushed and pulled at a woman.
At a glance I saw that her robe was torn at both knees. Also, her robe was spotted with fresh dust and stains of green. I caught a glimpse of her hands, the heels and palms were scratched and in the scrapes were smears of blood.
But it was her face that was most awful. It mirrored terror and panic. A blue and blackening bruise shown above her left eye. Dried tear lines streaked her smudged cheeks. She shook uncontrollably.
One of the older Pharisees grabbed the back of her head and gripped a fist full of auburn hair. He pushed her toward Jesus. She stumbled.
The elder Pharisee pressed into the face of Jesus and with a clenched jaw he spit an accusation, “This woman was caught in the very act of adultery! The Law of Moses says to stone her! What do you say?”
Jesus met and held the eyes of the Pharisee. Yet, Jesus didn’t immediately say anything.
I sensed Jesus was being set up.
Then, instead of answering, Jesus knelt down and scribbled something on the ground.
The senior Pharisee watched Jesus intently.
The remaining men growled and continued to act upset and defiant.
I thought I heard Jesus sigh.
- Jesus slowly stood up.
- Jesus fixed his eyes on the Pharisee.
- Jesus spoke,
“Fine, stone her. And I’ll tell you what, let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”
The aged Pharisee returned Jesus’ look with stunned silence.
It dawned on me that what Jesus had done was turn the whole frightening affair back on them.
Jesus completely exposed their hypocrisy.
Almost no one ever dared to talk to Scribes and Pharisees like this without suffering dismal consequences.
After Jesus spoke he bent down once more to write on the ground.
The experienced Pharisee stepped back. He let go of the woman. The jagged stone he clenched in his fist fell to the ground.
Miraculously the other accusers also let their stones slip to the ground.
The lead Pharisee turned away.
I notice eyes once more.
The woman’s eyes filled with fresh tears.
The Scribes and Pharisees still flashed contempt with their eyes.
Jesus purposefully looked up at each one of them. In Jesus’ eyes I saw love, compassion, and forgiveness.
Beginning with the elder Pharisee, one by one the woman’s accusers turned around and walked away.
Whatever they had planned to accomplish didn’t take place.
The woman stood alone in front of Jesus. She still trembled.
Jesus looked into her eyes with mercy and sympathy. Then he softly asked, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
In a thin, exhausted, and raspy, almost inaudible, voice she answered, “No Lord.”
“Well,” Jesus said, “I don’t condemn you either, go, but don’t sin anymore.”
With quiet tearful relief she backed away.
And It Made Forever Different
I have sense then wondered what became of her. But as I sat watching her leave it came to me that I also am in need of this compassionate forgiveness Jesus gave her.
Jesus turned back to us and continued his teaching where he left off—“I am the light of the world.”