Thursday, May 26, 2005
The Skink's Tail
Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.
"Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?"
They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.
He didn't say a word. Just bent over and started writing in the sand. His every movement was smooth, unhurried. Then I saw that he was writing in Hebrew. Words. Upside down, so we could read it. What?
The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, "There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
I began to get a bad feeling. Something was echoing in my memory. Others of us were hit harder; they started to blanch and look uncomfortable. The eldest even bowed their heads. Anything but look at Jesus. Everyone's attention was riveted onto that elegantly moving finger, writing in the sand.
"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity."
When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.
Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?"
She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."
I finally got it. The words in the sand. As I walked out of the courtyard, trailing the others, my ears burned. Guilty! What had we done? What could I do?
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
John 8:1-11, NASB
2 Samuel 12:1-7, NIV
Psalm 51:10-13, NIV
Written for our Gospel of John study 2005 May 24