I have often wondered what Jesus was doodling on the ground when the Pharisees dragged that adulterer before him to be judged. Lots of folks have spoken with authority about the kind of thing he would have been writing...but if John wanted us to know what it was that he was doing down there in the dirt, well, he would have told us. Leaving it to our imaginings is part of the work we are called upon to do.
The Pharisees have been hard at work trying to trap Jesus. We can almost see them drooling with glee at their conniving today...We've got him! Let him try and save this adulterer! He does flummox them though. "Let the one among you who is free from sin be the first to cast a stone." Who are we to judge? In particular, when the resulting punishment is death?
Jesus is pointing us to forgiveness, reconciliation and the truth that God can and does love and forgive us when we "repent," meaning "turn." God even loves us when we are trying to figure out what this means. Who are we to judge when the penalty is so final? Every life is worth being given the opportunity to turn. Turn from what we have been doing to what we should be doing. Judging is so much easier than realizing all of us are fallen in some way and need to turn...turn to a more open, forgiving nature. What a different society we would live in should this crucial instruction be followed by Jesus.
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Baptismal Font @ St. Christopher's, 2012.