What did Jesus write on the ground?


Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

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.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

John 8 King James Version

When I was young I used to listen to the wonderful stories of Jesus in Sunday school. I was very moved by them, especially the ones involving women, which weren’t that many, unfortunately. There was the Virgin Mary, of course, and the story of Mary Magdalene spreading oil on Jesus’ feet and the Samaritan woman at the well, and the girl with the issue of blood and the woman caught in adultery. The story of the woman caught in adultery is a wonderful piece of high drama. What always mystified me about this story was what Jesus wrote with his finger in the ground. I remember my teacher telling me Jesus was a legislator and he was writing the ‘law’ into the ground, but I don’t think that is true. Why would he do that? I think Jesus engaged in an idle gesture that suspended the pronouncement and stretched time, while he awaited divine inspiration, in the way that an artist calls forth his own powers of creativity. I think he received the answer to the Pharisee’s duplicitous question from beyond himself: that it is right to remember that we have all done wrong, before we condemn others. I guess the role of women in these ancient texts has been on my mind a lot lately. They are very beautiful and moving stories and have much to tell us.

With Love, Susie with a bit of the husband.