Bible stories of hope: an unfaithful wife - by James Archer
Bible stories of hope is a series comprising a reading about someone's encounter with God, some notes about how they may have seen it, and a prayer.
Reading – John 8:3-11
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They forced her to stand before the people. They said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught having sexual relations with a man who is not her husband. The law of Moses commands that we stone to death every woman who does this. What do you say we should do?” They were asking this to trick Jesus so that they could have some charge against him.
But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finder. When they continued to ask Jesus their question, he rose up and said, “Anyone here who has never sinned can throw the first stone at her.” Then Jesus bent over again and wrote on the ground.
Those who heard Jesus began to leave one by one, first the older men and then the others. Jesus was left there alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus rose up again and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one judged you guilty?”
She answered, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “I also don’t judge you guilty. You may go now, but don’t sin any more.”
She couldn’t care less what they did with her. They’d never let her see Reuben again. What was there left to live for? She hoped it would be quick, and that the stones wouldn’t hurt too much.
She kept her eyes closed and her head down as they hustled her along the streets and into the temple court – she wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of reacting to anything. They found a rabbi and bypassed the formalities of a trial, telling him she’d been caught red-handed, and what was he going to do with her. Everyone knew the answer.
Silence. Eventually a slight scratching. Despite herself, she couldn’t help half opening an eye. Was he writing something in the dust? No, it was just a doodle. What did it mean? Was he embarrassed? Maybe he felt trapped into saying something he didn’t want to.
Eventually, he stood up and gave his judgment. Then the scratching started again. She braced herself for the stones. Nothing. Just a gentle rustling of clothes and the scratching. She waited. What was going on? It seemed like an age, but was probably only five minutes. The scratching stopped. Silence. Eventually she could bear it no longer. She opened her eyes and looked up.
“Woman,” he said, “where are your accusers?” She looked round. The place was empty! She looked back at him in amazement. He smiled. Her heart soared. She was alive! There was a God who cared for her!
“Has no-one condemned you?” “No sir.” They were the first words she had uttered. “Then neither do I. Go and leave your life of sin.”
Tears streamed down her face. Tears of joy. His command set her free. “Thank you, sir,” she beamed at him as she turned and left.
Lord Jesus, teach me to love you and to flee from sin with all my heart. Amen
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