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What Did He Write in The Sand?

1 Corinthians 4:5, "So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due."

Have you read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all the way through? There's a story that we all are familiar with there. We know the Pharisees did not like Jesus and spent all their energy to discredit Him whenever possible. On this occasion it was no different. They caught a woman in the middle of adultery, took her from the house, dragged her through the streets to where Jesus was, and tossed her to the ground. Then they quoted the law to Jesus about stoning her and wanted Jesus to refuse and break the law, therefore claiming He's above the law. What's interesting is a fact that was left out, and only research brought it to my attention. Both the man and woman caught in adultery were to be brought forward, accused, and sentenced. Yet, where was the man?

The Bible continues to tell the story in that Jesus said nothing, only bent down and wrote in the sand with His finger. Not once, but twice. He began to write, paused, and said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” Then He continued to write and one by one all the people dropped their stones and left, leaving only Jesus and the woman.

So, what did Jesus write? The Bible never says, and we've only speculated. The most popular idea was that He was writing down the sins of those Pharisees. But did He? Maybe He wrote, ‘Where is the man, doesn't adultery involve two’, bringing the whole law to their attention. Maybe He was simply doodling to buy time for the Pharisees to get uncomfortable and realize their own sins. Maybe He was quoting, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow’. Or, ‘Judge not lest you be judged’.

It's funny how we can get stuck on one thing left unexplained and take our eyes off what is important. I do not believe it is necessary to know what Jesus wrote, but what we can glean from the incident. The Bible is full of gems and this story is no different.

Those standing by Jesus, including the Pharisees, began to read the words written and one by one the stones fell to the ground and the crowd began to walk away until it was just the woman and Jesus. Jesus looks at the terrified woman and asks, “Where are your accusers. Has no one judged you guilty?”

She replies with a no, and Jesus speaks again, “I also don't judge you guilty. Go now and sin no more.”

This incident illustrates the harmony of justice and mercy and Christian salvation. God will judge our sins but also provide a way of escape from condemnation- Romans 3:23, 8:1. Although Jesus does not encourage the sin, He loves the sinner. He will never treat sin casually but will call sinners to turn away from their corrupt life.

Like writing down the sins of those accusing the woman, Jesus is prompting us to examine our own lives before picking up stones to throw at one another. Before we throw judgment at another we need to stop and remember how many times God forgave us, and that none of us have the right to throw stones- Luke 6:37, Ephesians 4:31-32.

Jesus knew the intentions of their hearts was not about the woman's sin as much as that they wanted to trick Jesus so they could find a reason to charge Him. How Jesus responds is one of my favorite stories in the gospels. He doesn't argue and fight back with words, He simply begins writing in the sand. Then comes a phrase we all need to put to heart. “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Next comes my favorite part of the story. Jesus said, he who was without sin cast the first stone and everyone except Jesus walked away. Jesus was sinless, at that moment He could have condemned her to death and would have been rightly justified. Yet, He instead, bends down and speaks the most freeing words, we as sinners, need the most, ‘Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”

Like the Pharisees, satan doesn't care if we live or die. We are merely pawns in his schemes. Yes, we deserve death, we are sinners, we have hurt God, turned our backs on him, fallen off our path of Godly living. Satan can easily bring us to the point of feeling like we will never have a relationship with Jesus again, because who can love such a sinner. Yet, Jesus, when we are before Him seeking forgiveness, will kneel next to us and say, “I also don't judge you, go and sin no more.”

The last gem that came to me was Jesus’ writing in the sand. Sand is not permanent and what you write in the sand can blow away or be wiped away. That is what Jesus does when we go to Him and ask forgiveness. He wipes our slate clean and remembers the sin no more. What a wonderful promise.

Our goal should not be to judge and condemn. It should be to become one body in Christ and seek reconciliation with one another- Colossians 3:12-13, Romans 12:17-21. Our judgment needs to be holding others accountable to their misguided ways- James 4:17, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, so they can find salvation with Jesus- James 5:16,19-21. Our judging is not to determine one’s salvation, it is to help lead them to salvation, for ultimately, we all will be before the throne and we’ll all be held accountable for our own words and actions- Hebrews 10:30-31, Matthew 12:36-37.

Before you pick up the next stone, examine your motives, examine your heart, and drop that stone. Instead love the sinner and forgive as you have been forgiven and help light the path to Jesus.

The Bible needs to be important in our daily lives, although can be hard to discipline ourselves to build this new habit pattern. From the Scriptures, we get our spiritual food, we learn who God is, we learn what God’s truth is, and we reorient our thinking to what God says. My prayer is that you will be inspired to make reading the Bible daily a priority in your own life. Even as busy as we can get, we can take some time to read God’s Word. We need to take time to read God’s Word. Let's finish our study through 3 John 9-15.

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