John 8: A Narrative

John 8: A Narrative

 Note: I wrote this narrative a few years ago, and as with any narrative of a text, I took creative liberty. This text always leaves me weeping because it’s so clear that Christ is for the ones whom the kingdom of heaven has been shut. The one who’s been shamed and counted worthless by the religious elite. The outcast and the despicable. The sinner. It is here that I see Christ with a heart of mercy and I realize that the gospel creates in me this same heart. Those who’ve been forgiven much, love much.
*****

The door burst wide open, letting daylight fill the room. The ecstasy of the moment vanished as a crowd of men piled through the doorway. She sat up, startled, and from the corner of her eye she saw her lover bolt away, taking every notion of his love for her with him. A cold sadness filled her heart. She finally recognized these men that stared at her. They had never spoken to her or even looked in her direction before. She was sure that she had never stood next to them on the street and she tried to remember a time when they were ever on this side of town. Confusion set in as to why they would be here with her now, these men who were close to God. Her face flushed at the realization that she was completely exposed. She started to reach for a covering but the men seized her and to her horror, began to drag her through the door.

Her feet drug through the dirt behind her as they walked her through the town outside of her home, shrieks and gasps could be heard as they passed through. They approached the temple and she remembered being inside of it as a little girl, hearing the scriptures read aloud. She remembered the Law. A thought of of sheer terror crossed her mind. Women that did the kinds of things that she did behind closed doors with married men brought shame to their father’s house. Adulteress. She had broken the Law and these men of God were dragging her to her death. She frantically tried to pull away but it was no use. They had a firm grip on each of her arms. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she began to sob uncontrollably. She could hardly breathe.

They finally stopped before a crowd near the temple and pushed her toward one man in particular. She recognized him as a Galilean. She had heard stories of a Galilean that came to town healing people and performing miracles. She wondered why these men of God would bring her to this man? What would a man who heals the sick have to offer a woman like her– an adulteress with a broken heart, awaiting her death sentence?

One of the men spoke to the Galilean saying, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do you say?”Her heart began to race as the Galilean looked her over. There was something so completely different about him from the other men. He looked her in the eyes. At first she wanted to look away in shame, though there was something there in his eyes that held her gaze. She wasn’t sure what it was but it was something she had never seen before and he didn’t seem to hate her like these religious men.

The Galilean bent over and drew something in the dirt, though through her tears, she couldn’t quite make out what it was. The religious men continued to question him and at last the Galilean stood up and spoke, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” His words came out with such force and authority that the men who held her arms released their grasp. It was slow, but they did. Then, one by one, they all walked away. She stood frozen before the Galilean. She was astonished. Without sin? Who could say such a thing to these men? They never so much as had a hair out of place, she couldn’t imagine them doing anything that could be considered sinful. She, on the other hand, was full of sin. These religious men had seen it first hand. But now, these men who were close to God, were they admitting that they too were guilty of sin?

She was certain now that this had to be the Galilean everyone was making a fuss over. She remembered hearing a story about this man claiming to be “The Bread of Life” and how anyone who came to him would by no means be cast out. That was so different from how these religious men had treated her. Sinners like her couldn’t get anywhere near them. Yet here was this man, stopping those men from giving her the death sentence she deserved because they were sinners just like her. Her thoughts quickly faded when she realized the Galilean was staring at her. Was he the one without sin who would be the one to stone her? There was nothing in his face that indicated that was his plan.

 “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” His voice was soft and reassuring.

He was looking her in the eyes again. It felt so safe. Not like the imaginary safe she felt in that coward’s arms that had left her to be dragged off by an angry mob. No, this was a real safe. He wasn’t ashamed to be standing with her in front of a crowd, even though she was an exposed sinner. “No one, Lord”, she answered him. She could barely get the words out, her mouth was so dry.

“Then neither do I, go and sin no more.” His words captured her heart in a way that no man’s words ever had before. This sinless Galilean gave her a pardon. She stood speechless knowing that for the first time in her life she had come face to face with unconditional love.

The compassionate eyes of Jesus shifted from her to the crowd and he said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

*****

(If you missed it, my friend Rachel Cohen has a beautiful song on John 8 that I shared earlier this week. You can see that post here.)

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