In the early hours of dawn, she was dragged from her lover’s bed, a bed her husband did not know. In fact, as the story is told, the angry mob barged in, finding them in the midst of their acts of passion. These seething religious leaders, climaxing with their own lusty scheme, pulled her into the streets. They had plans for her. They were arranging a game of chess with Jesus, and this scarlet woman was their pawn.
As she was snatched from her adulterous bed, a literal rendering of the passage tells us she was “taken with her shame upon her.” In that moment when the curtains hiding the light from her late night rendezvous were drawn back, she knew she had been found out. And the terror of shame rifled through her body. Everyone knows. Her hidden secrets exposed.
And the shame built, wave after wave crashing into her rocky soul. The noise of the crowd grew to a frenzy. She was grabbed, pulled, jabbed, prodded and dragged to the middle of the street where she was forced to stand … alone.
And the accusations flew. “She is a harlot, a slut.” “We walked in on her just hours ago.” “She is a wicked woman.” “What do you say, Jesus, time for a stoning?”
And she stood, shaking, alone, teary eyes dropped to the ground, naked with her shame. She was surrounded by her religious accusers, some filled with their own lustful fantasies of what a night with her would have been like. She was surrounded by a gawking crowd, paused for a moment of entertainment, mocking the woman. She stood alone, her supposed lover nowhere to be seen. She stood next to Jesus, a moral teacher who would no doubt soon fling His own biting words of rebuke.
The accusers towered over her, hovering vultures. Jostling the rocks in their hands, they circled their prey.
But Jesus bent to the ground…as if to say, “These men tower over you, but I will not.”
And He scribbled in the sand, showing He was unhurried, even unbothered by their frenzied retort. Possibly, as the old traditions suggest, He began to write His own accusations in the dirt, sins common among the accusing crowd.
Yet they persisted, insisting Jesus answer their demands for a stoning.
And Jesus stood, with fiery eyes and strong words. He stood to rebuke these hypocrites, “Whoever hasn’t sinned, cast the first stone.”
Then Jesus slowly knelt again, returning to His humble posture. Scribbling once more, perhaps noting sins slightly more specific, the angry mob dispersed, one by one.
But the woman stayed. She could have run. She had her chance. Something in Jesus drew her. Jesus invited her to look around and see where her accusers were. He wanted her to see for herself. They were gone.
And Jesus stood again. This time, not for rebuke, but for grace. Wanting her to see the tender strength in His eyes, He spoke words of life to her. “I don’t condemn you. You don’t have to live in shame anymore.”
Whatever our nakedness exposes, God will clothe. Whatever shame is planted deep in our soul, God will uproot. He stands to look deeply into your eyes and say, “You are forgiven. You don’t have to live in shame anymore.”
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