Published 3:57 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2012
At daybreak, Jesus went to the temple and all the people gathered around him.
He was sitting down.
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Suddenly doctors of the law and Pharisees brought in someone they claimed had been caught committing a sin.
They stood this person in the middle of everyone.
And they condemned this human being in front of Jesus.
In front of everyone.
They said the law required them to stone this person to death for their sin.
But they were also trying to test and trick Jesus, to find some reason to stone him too.
Or crucify him.
Jesus said nothing.
Instead, he bent down and wrote with his finger in the ground.
Words in the dirt.
None of them looked to see what he had written.
Not a soul.
Not even one of Jesus' followers who witnessed the scene.
The next rain would wash the precious words away.
The accusers continued to call for an execution, by stoning, of the person they called a sinner.
So Jesus sat straight up and looked at them, and then he answered, telling the doctors of the law and the Pharisees to go ahead with the stoning-but let the one among you, he said, who is faultless, who is perfect, who is sin-free, let that person cast the first stone.
And then Jesus bent down and began to write in the dirt again, the only time the Bible shows Jesus to have committed anything to writing. Words that Jesus obviously believed were so important that he needed to leave them behind when he left the temple.
Words in the dirt.
In the ground.
Words literally on the face of the earth, for all to see.
Words that no one would cast a glance upon.
With what Jesus spoke rippling through their consciences, the doctors of the law and the Pharisees began to leave, one by one.
No stones were thrown.
Not a single one.
Soon, it was just Jesus, alone with the person brought out into public to be stoned to death.
“Where are they?” Jesus asked. “Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” came the reply.
“Nor do I condemn you,” Jesus said. “You may go; do not sin again.”
Jesus could have been speaking to all of us.
Easter is over.
Finished as a date on the calendar.
We have put the hymnals down. Our hands are free to pick up what we will.
Two questions linger, however, like the thin trail of ascending smoke from snuffed out candles on the altar.
Why are we so quick to stone people when our own flawed humanity is as manifest as the fingerprints we leave behind on what we choose to hold and then throw into the world-on rocks or on redemption?
Why don't we go and see what Jesus wrote on the face of the earth with his finger, instead?