I always have been the sort of person that loves nothing better than having a good cry at a weepy movie. As a teenager I remember crying every week watching the Waltons yet it was still one of my favourite programmes.
I cry quite a bit in church services too, worship song lyrics particularly set me off depending on my mood and there have been a several sermons over the years that have touched me so deeply the tears start to flow.
However I can’t remember a time when I’ve cried as I read the Bible, until today when I could have sobbed I was so overwhelmed.
The problem was I was in a prayer meeting and I’m not sure I could have explained my tears there and then so I surreptitiously dried them trying not to make a fuss and draw attention to my emotional outburst.
But all day I have been left trying to unpick the verses we read wondering why they squeezed my heart so and because it’s what I do I shall write it down to clear my thoughts and if I’m typing it anyway I may as well share it with you in the hope my thoughts may be helpful to someone else.
The passage we read was in John chapter 8 verses 1 – 11. You can click on the link to get read it on BibleGateway.com or read what I’ve paraphrased it here:
A woman is caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus by the Pharisees, they are hoping to trap him and ask should they stone her for her sin as it says in the law of Moses.
Jesus stoops down and starts writing in the dust.
The Pharisees grow impatient and keep asking for an answer.
Eventually Jesus stands up and says, “only those you have committed no sin may stone her,” and he returns to his doodling on the ground.
One by one, starting with the oldest, everyone leaves and when Jesus looks up again he finds only the woman is left.
“Did no one condemn you?” He asks.
“No sir,” she replies.
“Then neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
What totally overwhelmed me this morning was the tenderness of Jesus to the woman, he was so gentle with her, never publically rebuking her or treating her harshly as the Pharisees had.
I could palpably feel his compassion poured out on this woman and thereby poured out on me. I may not be an adulterer but my sins are just as black when compared to the sinless Jesus. Like everyone else in the crowd I can’t cast a stone at her.
What also struck me was the fact that Jesus deflected all attention away from her by drawing in the dust. His actions were strange, he seemed to be taking very little interest in what was going on and yet his words as usual are profound and have stuck as common parlance.
But his drawing in the dust also puzzled me and this is the bit I’ve been stuck pondering all day.
He is seemingly doodling, ignoring everything else that is going on. Was the woman just a tiny bit annoyed by his actions? I know I would be. Actually I know I am often cross with Jesus, he doesn’t seem to be answering my prayers, instead he’s tinkering with other stuff and I don’t really understand what’s going on.
As much as I sense Jesus’s compassion in this story I also have a sense of frustration that nothing is happening here.
So just what is going on down there in the dirt?
The Bible says Jesus was writing, my friend said today maybe he was doodling – well I understand both of those being an avid doodler and writer!
Essentially they are creative pastimes.
Right at the start of the Bible it says “in the beginning was the WORD.” God spoke the universe into existence. Words are incredibly powerful.
So was Jesus writing the woman’s story, drawing it, creating something new from the dust?
When he finally spoke to her she was alone and maybe that was the most special moment of all. Did she see his whole picture; get a glimpse of his plans for her marvellously put together?
My wise friend, who first suggested Jesus might be doodling, said maybe Jesus wants me to join him on the floor for a bit of scribbling – just imagine what we could draw and write together?
Now that makes me smile and my tears for now are wiped away.