The warmth of his body left her as they dragged her from his home. A deep-throat wail pierced her ears, and she realized the sound was coming from her own body.
The moment the Pharisees had come, she had expected him to defend her, to tell them that her husband was simply not suited for her, but also that this was only going to be the one time it happened. Instead, he had abruptly stood, dressed, and ran from sight before they could gather more men to haul them both away. She had attempted to chase after him, but he had pushed her down with a threat that warned her not to pursue him.
Their grips on her bare body punctured deeper than the skin and into the heart that she wished to hide more than the lack of covering on her figure. Her shin hit a rock in the dirt and she cried out just as the Pharisees brought her to an immediate halt in a crowd of people at the Mount of Olives. A man whipped her bundled woolen clothes at her and spit on her.
“Stand up!” A Pharisee growled, demanding every last bit of strength from her.
Her desire to hide overwhelmed her as people called out cruel names, shouting and spitting their hatred on her. She snatched at the wool material and attempted to stand as she covered what she could of skin. She must have been taking too much time to stand, for a Pharisee grasped her arm with thick claws and yanked her to a standing position with such strength, that her clothes dropped to the ground. Men laughed and sneered, and she stumbled as she endeavored to pick them up again, but someone from behind pushed her and she fell to the ground once again.
“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery!” A Pharisee bellowed out loudly for the entire crowd to hear. “In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women,” he eyed her with such intense disgust; she looked away in shame and gripped her clothes tightly around her, before he returned to his gaze to the teacher. “Now what do you say?” The Pharisee challenged him.
Though she knew she had gone against Moses’ teachings, she was sure those consequences were extreme. She resisted the urge to cry out yet again at the punishment they were forcing on her. This method of sentencing was only supposed to be instigated if she was a betrothed virgin, and it was to be done to both man and woman. However, she knew she was in no place to counter the Pharisees on their decisions, so she stayed quiet.
Dare she look at the man they called teacher? Afraid of rebuke, she kept her eyes lowered. It seemed like it was silent for a lifetime, so she quickly decided to steal a glance at him. She nearly gasped out loud at the sight of this man. He was the one they called Jesus; the one she had heard called The Messiah.
Thoughts spiraled as Jesus sat silently drawing in the dirt. Could it be? The most perfect man in all of creation was asked to give judgment on her impurities? She let the soundless tears slip down her olive skinned cheeks. The most perfect man would surely offer the worst punishment to the most imperfect woman. What could he even say? The Romans would hunt him down if they knew Jews were implementing this execution. But if he did not condone the stoning, Jesus would be accused of withholding sustenance of the law.
“What is your solution, Jesus?”
“Yes, pray tell us, son of God, what shall we do with this woman caught in adultery?”
Some mocked him, pressed him and demanded an answer from him, while others bent to gather rocks.
She quavered in distress, bracing herself for the first stone to make its black and blue mark on her flesh, followed by many more that would eventually cause her life to fade. She knew she should not have done what she did, and she told herself she deserved this punishment.
Jesus stood and straightened. “Let any one of you who is without sin throw the first stone at her.” As simply as he had said it, he stooped and began drawing in the dry dirt once again.
The Pharisees looked around at one another, frowning. The response Jesus had given them was clearly not the one they had desired. Would they stone her anyways, despite what The Messiah had said?
But none of them were without sin. So she watched in absolute incredulity as, one by one, they let their stones fall from their fingertips. Some walked away with scowls, while others turned away in complete bewilderment. The Pharisees had attempted to ensnare Jesus in their hunger to accuse him of something – anything – but had failed.
After the crowd vanished, she was unsure what to do. Only Jesus and she remained.
She scrambled to clothe herself in the midst of The Messiah, and wondered why he would let her have her life when she thought she did not deserve it. When she found the strength to stand, He rose from the ground also. They locked eyes and the intensity of the love in his eyes overwhelmed her. She felt as if he was sifting through her soul, knowing every inch of her, every crack in her broken heart and every suffering that lead up to her most recent sin. Neither her husband nor the other man she had been with had ever looked at her in this way. It was as if one look from The Messiah could heal all wounds, mend all brokenness and restore all that was supposed to be.
She had many questions for him: why didn’t he come to save her before? Why hadn’t he shown up to protect her from her own sin? But in the moment they had locked eyes, all uncertainty died. She knew He was The Messiah. She knew He loved her beyond the kind of love any earthly being ever could give. All she could feel now was gratitude that such a perfect man would even think of her. She wanted to voice her thanks, but words escaped her.
Jesus skimmed the surroundings of the now peaceful Mount of Olives. “Where are they?” He asked her. “Has no one condemned you?” His eyes glimmered in the sunlight.
Her throat felt dry, but she replied as gracefully as she could, “No one, sir.”
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now, and leave your life of sin.”
When she turned away from him, she tilted her neck up and let the sunlight lick her skin. She beamed. Though she did not know what was ahead for this man, she knew she was renewed and freed from the bondage of sin that had held her, and that there was no greater love than that of The Messiah. She was the broken and He was the mender. And for that, she rejoiced.
(Taken from and inspired by John 8:2-11)