With Lent approaching, and our thoughts turning towards Easter, we wanted to share with you one of our favourite stories from the Gospels found in John 8. Rebi is planning on speaking about the re-telling of this story on Ash Wednesday (17th February) as part of a St Matthew’s Church service on Zoom and on YouTube.
Stood there; scared, confronted, embarrassed, ashamed. She couldn’t look at anything but her feet, yet her ears couldn’t help be aware of the accusations.
‘Teacher’ she heard them address him, the new Rabbi, the one who’s been mixing things up.
And then the mention of stoning… her stare continued to be fixated on her feet – it was all she could do to stop herself collapsing under the stress. Would this be the end?
Then suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed, He was on the floor too. Bent down, not far from her own feet. And He was drawing – tracing in the dirt with his fingers.
Their questions went on and on, but still, he drew, there in front of her feet, down, below, on the ground.
Then suddenly he disappeared from her sight – he must have stood up again. And then she heard it – his voice clearly speaking through the torrid of their questions.
‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw the stone’ – wow, okay, she braced herself, ready to catch the stone on her skin, ready for this to be the end. She waited. Waited. And then noticed… there he was again, on the ground, in her line of sight – for a moment she forgot about the impending sense of doom her body was holding, all she could do was fixate on his fingers in the ground.
Tuning back into the men around her, she began to realise that the crowd was diminishing – those who had dragged her before this ‘teacher’ had begun to walk away. One by one, they weren’t throwing stones, but walking away. One by one, until it was just her and the teacher.
Eventually, he disappeared from her line of sight on the floor – he had stood up again. She wondered what he was looking at? And then she realised – she dared to raise her gaze from the ground where he’d been and look ahead into his eyes, which were no longer fixed on the ground, but straight on her face.
‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ – it was like he hadn’t noticed – too focused on his ground-work.
‘No sir’ she muttered.
His gaze never left her face – ‘then neither do I condemn you…. Go and leave your life of sin’
Go. Go. She could leave – as his words echoed in her ears she realised she was no longer stuck – that he had declared freedom. Not only to leave the spot where she stood but to walk from this moment into something new. Maybe she didn’t have to live that way. As she glanced back to the ground where he’d been and back up to his face, she knew there was a different way ahead.