Powered by Fr. Abraham Mutholath Foundation NFP

ADELTEROUS WOMAN: Why and what did Jesus write on the ground with his finger?

ADELTEROUS WOMAN: Why and what did Jesus write on the ground with his finger?

The Bible does not give any other instance when Jesus wrote anywhere. However, in the Old Testament, we have the Ten Commandments God inscribed on two stone tablets with His finger. “Moses then turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back. The tablets were made by God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Ex 32:15-16). The same God incarnate wrote on the ground with his finger, ostensibly to remind the Scribes and the Pharisees that he was the same God who wrote the commandments on the stone tablets.

Sand or dust could be present on the pavement of the Temple. The stone tablets God inscribed on Mount Sinai were permanent laws. The writings on the sand were temporary but touched the hearts of the opponents. Hence, they left the woman unpunished and did not assault Jesus. The new law Jesus introduced is inscribed on human hearts. God had talked about the Messianic age through Jeremiah, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33).

The writing in the dust from which humans are created might remind Jesus’ onlookers of the transcendence of life in this world. Like the writing on the sand, our life in this world will be erased and forgotten. We have to be kind to others and seek eternal life by being merciful to sinners.

The evangelist did not document what Jesus wrote on the ground. Whatever it was, it did make the people who came enthusiastically to execute the death penalty on the adulterous woman leave in shame. Jesus knew their inner hearts. “The LORD searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts” (1 Chr 28:9). Using his divine knowledge, Jesus might have written their wrongdoings, which were more serious than that of the adulterous woman.

Jesus did not deny the seriousness of the sin of adultery. The woman deserved punishment, as prescribed by Moses. But Jesus also knew the moral state of the Scribes and the Pharisees who had brought the adulterous woman before him. They were also sinners, even worse than the adulterous woman. So, the questions implied in Jesus’ declaration were: “Don’t you commit adultery?” “Weren’t some of you partners in her sin?” “How virtuous are you to judge her?”

According to Moses, “The hands of the witnesses shall be the first raised to put the person to death, and afterwards the hands of all the people” (Deut 17:7). Jesus changed this by demanding that anyone who is without the same sin to throw the first stone on the woman. If Jesus had meant one with no sin, that would abolish the judiciary system because all people, including judges, commit sin (Rom 3:23). Those who found fault with the sinner were sinful themselves. Probably some of them might have sinned with her and so brought her to Jesus with no accomplice.

Jesus knew their immoralities and asked them to judge their own spiritual status before stoning the accused woman. The accusers found themselves unworthy to stone the woman. They were frightened whether Jesus might reveal their secret sins in public if they dared to stone the woman. The onlookers and the disciples might have been watching this incident closely.

©Bibleinterpretation.org. All Rights Reserved 2024