Recently a friend of mine relayed to me a Bible study they were involved in regarding this passage. One of the questions that they had asked was what it was that Jesus could have been writing in the sand.
Wesley proposes that Jesus wrote in the sand to signify that He was not yet come to condemn the world, but to save it, and Calvin says that anyone that even conjectures about it misses the point. I think Calvin is wrong. I think trying to go one step deeper into the Bible (while remaining in context of course) is the only way to interpret the Bible. It's the only way I can make the story of a God that became man relevant to me. I need to think about what He must have felt like to walk among us, and what the moments were like that He did.
The Bible study I was talking about came up with a few different answers about what Jesus might have written in the sand, but I found one to be particularly enjoyable.
The Bible tells us that after Jesus was challenged by the Jews about what to do, that He rose from writing in the sand and said"
"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
Then he returned to writing in the sand. John then relates that beginning with the oldest, or probably more precisely, the most honored among them, they departed one by one until none were left. So was it just the wisdom of what He said that caused them to lose the wind in their sails? Maybe, but here is what the Bible study proposed.
What if Jesus was writing the names of the women (or men) that these particular Jews had commited adultery with? That would expain the eldest departing first as more time/power equals more opportunity. The most honored of the Sanhedrin would also have the most to lose. Imagine the looks on their faces if this were the case and He sqautted there, wrote a name, looked up at a specific man...
So maybe not, maybe this is the first recorded instance of the game of tic-tac-toe, I don't know. I just thought their proposal was funny as well as intruiging., and I love the way Jesus constantly put these guys in their places.