July 11, 2014 by Chris French
A hush fell over the crowed as Haran addressed a man I hadn’t noticed yet. “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the very act of adultery.” He swelled his chest. My entire being flushed and I dropped my head in shame. “With your son!”, I thought in a part of my mind that was struggling to make sense of this. After a moment for effect, Haran continued. “According to the law of Moses, the only thing to do is stone this wretch and rid the city of such a Godless creature. What do you say about the matter?” All heads turned towards the man, waiting. I tried to plead with my eyes but when I met his steady gaze I felt as though he was looking straight though me. No, inside me, to my very soul! My heart burned and I lowered my eyes to the ground that I knew would soon soak up my blood. He didn’t answer. I heard him shuffle and when I looked again, he was writing something on the ground. Why? Was I so insignificant he couldn’t even be bothered to answer, or was the reek on condemnation that surrounded me so strong that he couldn’t even consider another possibility.
“Jesus doesn’t have an answer.” called a voice. Ahinoam’s voice. I looked again. Jesus? The man Leah spoke of? Well of course there was a crowd. He always drew a…my gaze stopped as did my rapid heart. There, staring at me with indescribable sadness was Leah. “What do you say?” Demanded the men. The man, Jesus does not answer, just continues to drag his finger over the dusty earth. The shadow of an arm being raised crosses my face and I bury my head in my hands. A low, calm voice breaks the silence.
“Let the man who has committed no sin cast the first stone.” When the stone dropped, it hit another lying in the road with a loud crack and I almost wailed. But I felt no pain. Nothing else made a noise. I opened one eye and saw Haran, empty handed, his stone next to his foot. Slowly he turned and walked away. The man next to him did the same. Then the next. The sound of stones hitting the earth sent tremors through my soul, but as each turned and walked away, a small flutter of hope moved inside me. Some still eyed me with malice but most gave the man Jesus a long, hard look before releasing their stones. Finally, Ahinoam, the last to leave, the youngest, turned and walked away holding the rock close to his chest. As I watched him fade I felt another presence approach. When I turned, Jesus stood there, looking at me with those eyes that could see all that I was. “Woman”, he said, “where are the men that accused you? Are none left?” It took a moment for my voice to find my lips. Something soft enveloped my shoulders. I looked into the eyes of Leah. In her eyes there was no hate, no malice, only gentle sadness. After laying her shawl around me she stepped away. “There is no one, my Lord” I barely croaked out as tears streamed down my face. “Then,” he said, taking my hand and lifting me to my feet, “ I will not condemn you either. Go and sin no more.” He turned and walked away, the same way the others had gone and I stood there watching until Leah, dear Leah, took my hand and guided me towards home.