There she was, in the middle of an angry mob. There he was, surrounded by the mob asking him to be judge, jury and executioner. The religious leaders of the day brought to Jesus a woman caught in the very ACT of adultery. John chapter 8 recounts the story,
“Teacher…In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time…until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No, one sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you, “Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:4-11)
I have read this story many times. I have pondered the events that took place here and wondered what it would have been like to be a bystander in that crowd. The question I ask the most when reading this passage is, “What did Jesus write on the ground?” We can only speculate. For the sake of this article, that is exactly what I am going to do, speculate.
SPECULATION #1 – John does not tell us the name of the woman involved. In first century Palestine, it did not matter. Women ranked below men in status. Let us call her Ashley Madison. She is the one made to stand up in front of everyone so they can hurl their condemnations at her, she is the one caught in the very ACT of adultery. She is the one whose sin is public. But Ashley met Jesus. While everyone was eager to stone her, he was eager to forgive.
SPECULATION #2 – What did Jesus write on the ground? No one knows. John does not tell us. I think that he wrote the names of those who had committed adultery too and had not been caught. He exposed the sins of those in the crowd who thought their secret was safe. Then, when Jesus asked for a sinless volunteer to be the first rock-chunker, the mob dispersed.
I cannot help but see the parallel in this story and the current Ashley Madison scandal. It is unfortunate that many people’s secret sins were exposed for everyone to see. I have not seen the list nor do I want to. I would not want someone looking at my list of sins. On the other hand, those who have seen the list would do good to read Jesus’ words elsewhere in scripture. Matthew 5:27, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The standards of Jesus are so high that he considers lust equal to adultery. But the good news is that Jesus is eager to forgive and promises to separate our sins as far as the east is from the west. If your name was on the hacked Ashley Madison list, bring your name in repentance to Christ first, then your spouse. He will delete that list for you because the forgiveness of Christianity means that no record of wrongs is kept. Jesus paid our debt on the cross of Calvary and he commands us to “Go and sin no more.” That is the gospel message.