Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Thursday, August 23, 2018

John 8:4-7

They said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 

Just thinking out loud

I always wondered why Jesus wrote in the dust. Maybe the gesture has no particular meaning, and there is nothing to be understood from his moment of playing in the dirt. Maybe it is just the artifice of a skillful storyteller who extends a dramatic moment to heighten suspense.

But the gesture is there, and the storyteller obviously thought it important enough to share. Why?

Was he writing her sin in the dust, knowing it would soon be kicked away by tramping feet and falling rain? Was he revealing that sin and guilt are as ephemeral as letters in the dust, especially in the presence of the great grace that is in him?

Was this a prophetic act reminding the woman’s accusers that they, like all human beings, are made from the dust—dust in the wind, destined to be blown away by the inexorable passage of time?

Not a cherry thought. But if so, Jesus’ dusty doodling remains a helpful reminder that accusers are just like the person they accuse, just as mortal, just as finite, just as broken, just as needy.

One more thought: Perhaps he was showing them that in stoning her they were trying to deny their humanity and mortality, their sin and failures, trying to convince themselves, to pretend, they were above the run of normal human beings. Lots of people believe that delusion.

All of this may be true, but perhaps it is best to cease speculating and focus on what is clear: Jesus radical and extraordinary acceptance of broken, sinful people. Every one of us.

And that is a cherry thought.

Pr. David L. Miller

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