Jesus Writes on the Ground
5th Sunday of Lent
April 3, 2022
I am always very intrigued by a very simple action that Jesus performs in John’s gospel this Sunday (John 8:1-11). Every word of John's Gospel has theological meaning and has been carefully constructed. John, therefore, invites us to meditate on the intimate details of Jesus’ life that he often provides in his writing.
We, therefore, reflect on one remarkable detail: Jesus draws or writes on the ground while he's being spoken to (if one of us did this we would consider it rude!). Upon thinking about it, this action of Christ might begin to seem familiar to many of us. Haven’t we all had the experience of praying to God and not receiving an answer right away? It may appear God is “distracted” with something more important than our prayer. This gives us both a window and insight into our own personal relationship with God. The Lord does not always answer us right away. Rather, Jesus will answer in his own time and in a manner which is most beneficial to us.
What is Jesus writing as he traces on the ground? This incident reminds me of the movie King of Kings by Cecil B DeMille, an early black-and-white (silent) movie about the passion of Christ. In the movie, as this woman’s accusers stand around with rocks in their hands to stone her, Jesus is tracing out the sins of the onlookers in the dirt, one after the other, without ever looking up. Of course, it is not by accident that it is the oldest that leave first. Recognizing their own sins as Jesus writes them, they are the first to realize that they themselves have done many things for which they could equally have been condemned.
Am I the type of person who is more concerned about the sins of others than I am about my own? Do I even know how my soul stands before God? Someday everything that is in my heart is going to be opened up and fully revealed before God and everyone else. There are no secrets in heaven. Of course, everything I truly am is already known to God. Even now most of the people around us usually know what our issues are, while we ourselves are often the last to know. It's so easy to condemn others without ever seeing the sins that we ourselves have.
God will periodically help us to see the real issues that we face in our walk before God. We might naturally think that the most important personal issues to resolve first are such things as our financial problems, health problems, friendship issues, our appearance, buying a house, paying the rent, our endless “to-do” lists, whatever. We say to ourselves, "I'll take care of God’s things as soon as I finish my list of things to do”. When God is placed last, everything is out of order in our lives. Instead, Jesus asks us to put his kingdom first and his righteousness first, and then he will take care of everything else for us.