Do you want to know one of my favorite moments in the bible? Well, even if you don't, here it is from John 8:2-11
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When
they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let
any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones
first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (NIV)
I love this passage because I want to know what he wrote? What was he creating at that moment? What nugget of information was he working out in the sand? (I love the versions of the bible where it says he wrote in the dust.... because man was made from dust, there are a lot of theological metaphors rolling around because of that version)
As I have speculated and speculated over this passage, as have many thelogians, I am caught up in the "what" he was writing. However, as I have thought more and more about it, it isn't about the what. If it was about the what, the writer of John would have told us what he wrote but he didn't.
I believe it is more about the "that" he wrote, than the "what" he wrote. THAT he wrote is a powerful image. It is a call to action. He was about to teach, he was asked a "trap" of a question and he starts writing...effectively creating and generating new thought, new ideas, or whatever it was he did. But THAT he did it when he did it is important. Amidst a difficult circumstance, Jesus started musing in the sand.
In that moment Jesus was hit with a theological inspiration - "Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." The generation of this theological amazement immediately caused something to happen that blows my mind. In that moment of divine inspiration Jesus simultaneously changes hearts and shapes culture. His question cut to the core of those who were condemning this girl. It also shaped the way they would perceive judgement from then on. How do we know? This quote, "Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." is one of the most quoted from the bible when talking about judgement and condemnation. If there was ever a moment of culture change, that would be one of the big ones.
Jesus simultaneously changed hearts and culture at the same time all because of divine inspiration he received because he started musing in the dust. When we are confronted with a difficult circumstance, I pray we all take the time to draw in the dirt.