Condemned (The Woman Caught in Adultery)

If the woman caught in adultery, rather than the apostle John, had written about her encounter with Jesus, perhaps it would read like this:


They pushed me forward through the crowd…amid the eager listeners hanging on the teacher’s every word…past the Roman guards, tense, waiting to draw their weapons at the slightest spark of unrest. They thrust me to the ground at His feet. Even with my face in the dirt, I could feel all eyes fall on me. Exposed. Humiliated. And in that moment a nameless, disposable, pawn in the Jewish religious leaders’ grab for power and control, trying to destroy their opposition, Jesus.

From their lofty place of judgment, the religious leaders declared my crime: adultery. Caught. In the very act.

Then came the supposition of my required sentence according to the Law: stoning.

There it was; there I was. The Law’s black and white decree. My action and its consequence. 

“What do You say?” With their loaded question, my fate – my very life – was transferred from the hands of the angry religious leaders into the hands of a man named Jesus. And all eyes shifted from me to Him. I had heard about this Jesus, how He showed kindness and compassion to others. But He was also a brilliant rabbi, a teacher of the Law, blameless and sinless in His ways. 

The Law’s black and white decree.  My action and its consequence. This moment? Nothing but a delay in the inevitable. The piercing stares would become pummeling stones. I saw it clearly. This was what I deserved; this was justice.

Suddenly, Jesus stooped down – to the ground…next to me…joining me in my humiliation – and began writing in the sand with His finger. In the silence, tension tightened its noose. Impatiently, the religious leaders demanded His answer. Rising slowly, Jesus rendered His sentence: stone her. Condemned. Justice pronounces its verdict and demands its payment. But let him who is without sin cast the first stone

And again, Jesus stooped down – to the ground…next to me… putting Himself in pummeling stones’ path – and began to write in the sand.

The sound of His steady breathing next to me filled my ears while I held my breath, waiting for the stones’ strike. 

Thud…the sound of a stone hitting the ground and then the sound of sand grinding underfoot…fading away. I exhaled. Thud. Another stone on the ground. Another set of retreating footsteps. I dared to draw a breath. Then, like overweight raindrops, a steady drizzle of thuds mingled with footsteps until Jesus’ steady breathing next to me, once again, became the solitary sound in my ears.

Then Jesus spoke to me: Woman. He called me woman…not harlot or sinner or adulteress, but the respectful title from son to his honored mother, a father to his virgin daughter, a groom to his beloved bride. Where are they? I lifted my head. They were gone. Every last one of my accusers. Did no one condemn you? An astonished, “No one Lord,” tumbled from my lips.

As Jesus moved to stand up, He extended His hand to raise me from my place of humiliation. Our eyes meet…love gazed into my very soul. Then, with the same authority that He had rendered my guilty verdict, Jesus set me free! Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on, sin no more. 

The Law’s black and white decree. My action and its consequence...BUT JESUS set me free!