“This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not .” – John 8:6
For me, this is probably one of the most intriguing verses to find in the Bible.
If you’re familiar with the verse and/or passage, you’ll know it involves a pretty unfortunate, embarrassing, public-shaming scene for a woman caught in an adulterous act. If you pay pretty close attention to the exact wording, scripture says that this exposure happened IN the temple where Jesus was sitting teaching the people (8:2), as well as the woman was literally caught in the very act of adultery. (8:2)
For the record, I write this, not for shock value, but for a clear picture of the Biblical account of the unfailing mercy, immeasurable love, and forgiveness of our God. Not only were the religious leaders shaming her in front of “the congregation,” but they were actually ready to kill her.
The writer, John, points out their malicious attempt to catch Jesus in a controversial stance for which to accuse Him, but Jesus begins His huge winning response by first stooping down, ignoring the accusers, then “doodling in the dirt.” It was the doodling part that had me stuck at, “Why?” Then all of a sudden, the Lord graciously reminds me of a single attribute of Himself, easily overlooked, but relieving & profound all at the same time:
“ For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” – Psalm 103:14
Personally, having studied the scriptures since childhood, I can say that today, I am totally convinced that Jesus shut out the world around Him, and had a momental and monumental inward reflection of remembrance that we quite literally are dust, as he was passing his fingers through it reinforcing the need for a merciful reply, as opposed to a wrathful one.
Now I obviously cannot, nor am I attempting to say that this is in-fact exactly what He was thinking, or answer why He wrote in the dirt; it is subjective, but I can’t help seeing anything else. When you consider the full context of the scenario, Jesus’ dirt drawing, the. blunt-profound & humbling response to the Pharisees, added with the merciful hand of forgiveness stretched to the woman literally lifting her up out of the dust, it connects perfectly. It’s as if it reinforced His stance of a merciful reply. It can also sound something like, “He who is not ‘dirt,’ cast the first stone.”
To be fully understood, Jesus’ merciful act was to position her in His grace to, “go and sin no more.” (8:11), but if God brings to His remembrance that we are frail and destitute humans that aren’t much more than breathing dirt of the ground, how much more should we take that to account when we might become frustrated or angry or unforgiving to the “dirt piles” around us. We ourself are one. I’m reminded of a portion of the most memorized, (yet seemingly least taken to application) prayer: “…Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US…”
It’s time we remember too…
We need to humble ourselves,
Have patience with others,
And forgive 70 x 7 (indefinitely)
(For Full Passage)