Christ was, perhaps, tired. After all, He had taught all the previous day. Not just teach; He had been repeatedly confronted by Pharisees. When it came time to eat dinner and retire, no one offered Him a place to stay. No matter, He had gone to the Mount of Olives, to His favorite garden, and prayed most of the night.
Now, it is early. The sky turns yellow, orange and red, hinting at a rising sun. It will soon be day. Jesus returns to the Temple and sits down to teach. He chooses the Temple not because it is a holy place. It has not been sacred for generations. No, He chooses to teach at the Temple because it is a place of concourse. Indeed, Jews from all over the Roman Empire gather there. Gentiles, too. Many of them have tender hearts and open minds. Some eagerly await the Messiah. A few are ready to take up arms and follow Him in rebellion against Caesar. Many are angry. As the sun smiles over the horizon, Jesus sighs at how little they comprehend.
I would gather you together as a hen gathers her chicks. He sighs again and begins to teach. It takes no time at all to gather a crowd. The people are eager to hear Him just once more before they leave Jerusalem.
The Pharisees are eager, as well. Unable to think of a snare that will trap Jesus, an opportunity falls into their hands: a woman caught in the very act of adultery. They plant a snare. Shall she be stoned? Only the Roman governor may order a death sentence. Of course, the Governor has extended that authority to the Sanhedrin, a body to which Jesus does not belong. If Jesus recommends stoning – and surely He will – they can charge Him with usurping authority. If He offers her forgiveness, as He has others, they can charge Him with heresy. The Pharisees laugh and smile and pat one another’s back.
When they ask Jesus for a verdict, they see for the briefest of moments a hint of an upturned smile. He ignores their question and kneels to the ground. With his finger, He begins writing in the dust.
They press Him for an answer, and for the moment, ignore his writing.
The Teacher stands and gives His verdict. “Let he who is without sin, throw the first stone,” says Jesus. He again kneels, returning to His writing.
Now the Pharisees read what He writes. One by one, the they turn pale. Slack-jawed, they turn and leave, filtering into the crowd.
“Where are your accusers?” Jesus asks the woman. “Does no one condemn you?”
She hesitates, looks into the faces of dozens of interested bystanders. None condemn her. Her husband is no where to be seen. The Pharisees are trying to blend into the crowd, and avoid eye contact. She looks into the eyes of Jesus and sees only compassion. “No, Lord. No one.”
“Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
She turns away, but before she leaves, she hears Jesus say,
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
– John 8:12
She smiles. Something in her changeds when she considers His words. She will never be the same. Surely, she thought, this is the Promised One, the Messiah.