Dropping Stones

    Cowering before Jesus, all the woman could see were the dusty feet and clenched fists of her accusers. Fists holding stones meant to kill her. She knew her adulterous lifestyle would some day end this way, yet she could not break loose from the sin which imprisoned her. What began as a search for love turned into something low and sordid.   She deserved death by stoning, yet the fear trembling through her limbs made her realize how much she wanted to live.
“The Law of Moses commands us to stone such a woman.”, the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus. “Now what do you say?”
Their challenge hung in the hot dry air, waiting for Jesus’ reply to seal the woman’s fate, as well as his own, so the men anticipated. This was a trap to catch this disruptive Rabbi so they could get rid of him. If he let the woman go free, he would be opposing the Law of Moses and they could accuse him of being unjust. If he condemned her to death, he would be breaking Roman law which forbid Jews to carry out death sentences. Either way, they were sure to achieve their goal.
A murmur ran through the crowd when Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. From under the veil of her disheveled hair the woman stared at the marks in the dust, not knowing what they meant. The murmuring rose to angry questions until Jesus rose and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.” Silence descended as he again scratched his finger in the dirt.
The group of learned men were disarmed by his answer. Since he spoke of throwing a stone, he could not be accused of disregarding the Law of Moses. On the other hand, no one hearing his words could say they were without sin. The rocks in their hands became heavy with the weight of their conviction.
She steeled herself for the pain of the first stone’s impact. But it did not come. Instead there was the soft plopping sound of rocks dropping in the dust, one by one. She cautiously looked up at the backs of her accusers as they walked away, leaving her in the center of an uneven circle of abandoned stones.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  A small tremor of hope began deep within her at the note of kindness in the Rabbi’s voice. She rose slowly on unsteady legs, daring to answer him. “No one, sir.”
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
She fled from the scene of her trial, past the stones of judgment left in the dust, afraid they might still be used against her. The sin became her past, because she knew she would not go back to it. One look into the eyes of Jesus, free of condemnation, full of  love, and she was set free. She did not know what would come next, but she knew she could face it because of the words of the Rabbi. With every part of her being she wanted to be true to the new way of life he offered her. Her sin brought him pain, yet he believed she could turn from it. She could not disappoint him.
When she paused to look back, she saw Jesus standing amidst the discarded stones. He showed his hand to her, free of any stone of condemnation.


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