Sunday, July 02, 2006

What did He write in the sand?

In John 8:1-11 we are told the story of the Pharisees and their attempt to beguile Jesus by bringing Him a woman that had comitted adultery. It is speculated that they were either trying to get Jesus to say she would not be stoned so that they could accuse Him of being an enemy of the Law, or to get Jesus to say she should be stoned and therefore accuse Him before the Romans.

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.


Jake said...

I like the idea of him writing names in the sand. I had never thought about it that way. I always imagined him doodling in the sand, stick fugures or something like that.

Anonymous said...

He wrote the names of the men there who'd committed adultry, themselves. Jeremiah 17:13 says "Hope of Israel, Adonai! All who abandon you will be ashamed, those who leave you will be inscribed in the dust, because they have abandoned Adonai, the source of living water." (CJB) These men knew the scriptures by heart and when Jesus began writing their names they knew exactly to which scripture he was referring.

Anonymous said...

Greeting all not only did he write there names he but the sin also
M(eshulam stolen from the temple
A(sher) committed adultery
S(halum)committed perjury
E(led)struckhis own father
A(marich) committed sodomy
J(oel)worshipped idols