When the scribes and Pharisees brought an adulterous woman before Jesus, what He wrote on the ground has long remained a mystery (John 8:3-11). Somewhat unexpectedly, reading Jeremiah led to the discovery of the solution buried in the depths of the Old Testament. What did Jesus write on the ground?
The Scribes, The Pharisees, and the Adulterous Woman
John 8:2-11 tells the story of a lady who was caught in the act of adultery and hauled out. And so they bring the frightened woman before Jesus. There is no doubt that she committed adultery. Of course, their goal was to cast doubt on Jesus’ legitimacy, so their actions were not without ulterior motives.
If Jesus gives a death sentence to this sinful lady, He will have followed the Law of Moses. However, He will no longer be the Prince of Life. If He tells them they shouldn’t stone her, He’s going against Moses and breaking the Law. The Jews will feel encouraged to execute Him for blasphemy if this happens.
They believe they have Him cornered one way or another.
The satisfaction of their bloodthirstiness makes them feel superior. Either they will stone her or Jesus to death. One person is about to be brutally destroyed, and hopefully, it will be Jesus. Only by ordering the woman’s murder can He possibly avoid execution himself. Yet if He obeys that instruction, He can no longer claim to be the Savior promised by God.
Their cold expressions convey the horror of her stoning execution. They want the right to kill desperately. Jesus, rather than respond, knelt and made a mark on the dirt with His finger. But He answered their persistent questioning by saying, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast the first stone at her.” He bent over to write something on the ground for the second time. It was then that they dropped their stones and turned the other way. However, what did Jesus write on the ground?
He jotted down two separate messages on the dirt. Even if the Bible does not explain the writings, you will read the passages with faith and understand Jesus’ love.
What Did Jesus Inscribe on the Ground?
According to Jeremiah 17:13, it appears that Jesus wrote their names in the dust first and then maybe inscribed a sin that they had done next to their name:
O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away from You will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water. (Jeremiah 17:13)
After Jesus exposed their deception, they fled in disgrace and anger. You need to understand that because Yahweh is God, He understood what was happening within their hearts.
Since Jesus had just described himself as “living water” in the previous chapter of John’s gospel, this passage may be a fulfillment of a prophecy.
Others think it was to show that Jesus had the power to declare two new commandments: to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34) and to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). This would be similar to how God the Father demonstrated His authority when He carved the Ten Commandments with His finger.
Jesus is the One Who Creates and Executes the Law
To put it another way, the finger that had inscribed the Law all those years ago was the same finger that was writing on the earth now.
Moreover, as the creator of the Law, it was His duty to communicate its meaning and ensure that we followed it correctly (Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10).
In addition, because He was the One who was going to take the punishment for the unfaithful woman’s sins upon Himself, He had every right to show mercy and compassion to her.
It is noteworthy to note that in Luke 11:20 when Jesus sent a demon out of a man who was mute, He alluded to the “finger of God.” This was done so that the man could talk again. The mob had accused Him of casting the demon out by the power of Beelzebub, which is known as the ruler of devils.
In answer, Jesus used the phrase “finger of God,” which, for those who could understand it, suggested that He was the same God who had written the Law on the stone tablets and that because of this, He was God Himself.
A Lesser Theory — Jesus Was Observing Roman Traditions
Some people believe that when Jesus wrote in the sand, he did it per Roman tradition. In the first century, a Roman judge would first record his judgment in writing before reading it aloud to the parties involved. The apparent parallels of Jesus penning something and then making an announcement are simple to understand why some people explore this option. It is easy to see why some people contemplate this possibility.
Others, on the other hand, dispute whether or not Jesus would comply with a Roman legal custom to prove a point to Jewish religious authorities. The question that the Pharisees and scribes posed to Jesus had to do with the law of the Old Testament, not the law of the Romans. Many believe that it is implausible either that Jesus would have responded to such a question using a Roman legal strategy or that the Jewish religious leaders would have been found guilty of using one.
Have you ever thought about what did Jesus write on the ground? Just for a moment, put yourself in the position of being one of those people ready to throw stones at the guilty. What were they possibly pondering at that moment? Now, put yourself in the shoes of the lady accused of the crime and anticipate being stoned to death for her crime. What must it have been like to be spared from such a horrible death and pardoned in such a spectacular manner?
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