based on John 8
by Sarah Kourkoulis

Her hands clawed at the dirt, clenching and releasing over and over again. Her mind struggled to grasp what had happened, reeling from the shock of being pulled from her bed by a dozen men, dragged through the street, and then thrown like so much trash in the middle of this crowd. Her stomach tightened again, and she could feel herself begin to get sick. Oh God, no. Please not that on top of everything. She tried to breathe, just focus on that.

She lifted her head just a little. She had to know where she was, had to know who she was in front of. Because they’d brought her for a reason. They had an agenda here, and she was it. They had her, finally, right where they wanted her. Anger seethed inside of her. How dare they stand there as though they themselves are not also breakers of the law! She knew the truth. Every one of those men had given her money, a token, something for what they took from her at night.

The crowd stood away from her. Her arrival had evidently interrupted someone’s speech. Then she saw him. He sat on a bench, his eyes on her. Nothing unusual there; everyone’s eyes were on her. But he was different. His eyes burned her somehow, and she knew instantly that he knew who she was. It was as though he were inside her, walking around her life and her past, peering into her heart in ways that no one ever had before. She gasped at the sharpness in his eyes.

Until this minute, she’d thought she was right. She was a whore. She knew that, but frankly it no longer mattered like it once had. The shame that she’d once carried had hardened into arrogance over the years. She knew what the people thought of her, but she didn’t care. After all, she knew who came to her door in the dead of night, which wives slept alone. That knowledge gave her power, and as she grew older and wiser in the ways of the world, she began using it.

In a box hidden just outside of her back door were dozens of little keepsakes and reminders of her lovers, reminders of who she was, lest they ever dare forget. They could be redeemed, she would say, but at a price. And the prices varied, depending on her needs and desires.

Only one clear thought had come into her head that morning when she opened her eyes to see the men in her room: I demanded too much. One of the Pharisees had confirmed it for her. He held her box out, empty now. They’d retrieved their belongings, and they were here for their revenge.

Ravi had slipped out of bed and into a robe that his peers held out to him. There was no surprise on his face, only a smirk. A tremor went through her body. She’d been set up.

Kneeling now in the dirt, her indignation dissolved, and she was left only with shame. So many years of sin. She could feel the weight of it now, and she knew that whatever judgment was passed on her, she fully deserved. Fallen before this man, she knew who she was. Tears streamed down her face and dropped to the dirt.

“Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” Ravi’s voice sounded clearly throughout the courtyard.

Silence thundered. No one moved as the challenge stood defiantly among the men in their robes and tassels. Who dared challenge the Law of Moses? No man who hoped to live. There was deceit here; most of the people could sense it. Adultery could only happen where there were two. Where was the man? The question was never voiced though. It was best not to challenge those who held authority. It was best to simply nod and begin searching for stones.

No one moved a muscle, however. This teacher had been challenging the scribes for a while now. Anticipation ran high and the very air stilled. Then, the woman heard a scratching, and she raised her head to look up.

The man had risen from the bench and knelt down in the dirt, writing on the ground with his finger. She could just make out the words. “Abandoned. Desolate. Destroyed. Forsaken. Without Hope.” She tucked her head back down, her heart breaking. The words tore through her, crushing arrogance and conceit out of her heart. She had nothing left. She could only agree silently. Yes, you are right.This is what I am.

Ravi insisted on being answered. “What do You say? How shall we deal with such a one?” A chorus of voices joined his, and then stopped abruptly.

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

His voice shook her. Like a knife sharpened in the fire, it cut through the traps the men had laid, opening their hearts for them to see. Like his eyes had done to her.
The scratching sound came again, and curiosity for a moment overcame her guilt. She lifted her head again and her soul came alive.

“Redeemed. My Delight. Built Up. Sought After. Loved. Forgiven.”

Hot tears coursed down her face, sobs catching her body. Clinging to the ground, her face covered with tears and her nose running, mud forming around her from her weeping, she had never felt so loved and clean.

She didn’t hear anything until his voice came again. “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”

She looked up at her savior, into those eyes that had cut through her soul just moments ago, and now held hers in a loving embrace. “No one, Sir,” she whispered.

“I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.” BACK_TO_TOP