So this morning, I read John 8:1-11, the story of the adulteress being brought to Jesus. This is how the story went...in my mind.
After it was done, Rizpah felt worse than how she had started off. She thought a night of passion would make her forget what was really going on in her life. Her husband hardly looked at her anymore, let alone spoke to her, her children disrespected her, and her friends talked bad about her behind her back. She needed the attention. Or so she thought.
She climbed out of bed with little effort, eager to be as far away from Andrew as possible. She went to the bowl of water on the washstand and rinsed off her hands and face. She knew she would never feel as clean as she once did. No matter how miserable she felt with her family, it would feel like heaven compared to the guilt gnawing at her now. That would always gnaw at her. She quickly gathered her things and headed for the door. She felt like she had been punched in the stomach on first contact with the sunlight. She didn't realize how dark it had been in there. She shook her head. You have to get out of here. Some one will see you. You know to many people around here. Rizpah sucked in her breath and made her way down the street. As she walked, she noticed a man staring at her. Where have I seen him before? Avoiding eye contact, she rounded a corner and made her way down an alley. She should have picked a busier alley. This one was quiet. Too quiet. She turned around out of instinct to see if he was following her. She let out her breath when she saw he wasn't. She hadn't even realized she had been holding it. When she turned around the familiar man was standing right in front of her. She let out a desperate gasp as she bumped right into him. "You must have a very pressing engagement to be walking that fast." She couldn't speak. Where did she know him from? "Did you and Andrew have a good night last night?" Then it came to her.
The temple. He was a priest. Oh no.
"I..." She was shaking.
"No, don't speak. I have caught you and you know it. Your poor husband. He's been nothing but good to you."
"I didn't mean to...I..." she stammered.
"You didn't mean to?" He laughed." Yes you did. You meant to and now you will face the consequences." Smiling he grabbed her arm and yanked her toward one end of the alley. What have I done? God, help me! "You know the punishment for what you've done, don't you? Of course you do and you-" He stopped dead in his tracks. He looked down at her, turned, and looked at the opposite end of the alley. He stood and pondered something for a moment. "Today might just be your lucky day. This way," he sneered. Along the way to wherever he was taking her, they met up with a few of his fellow teachers and Pharisee friends.
They are no closer to God right now than I am, or else they would show me mercy.
You don't deserve mercy.
She almost cried when she heard that wicked voice. It was the same voice that led her to Andrew's last night. Andrew. He wouldn't understand when he woke up.
That's not you, God, is it?
Take heart! I have overcome the world.
She breathed a sigh of relief at that comforting voice. The voice she knew so well and adored. Why had she failed to listen to it last night? She should be home right now with her children. She should have made things better. But, instead...
"Keep walking! You look healthy enough, a hill like this shouldn't be too hard for you." The man's hard eyes and dire tone brought her back to reality.
Rizpah prayed the whole way up the hill. She begged God, made promises to Him if He would just get her out of this mess!
Then they all stopped. For the first time, she turned to look up at the man who held her arm so tightly. The look she saw in his eyes frightened her. He looked like he was about to make a deal with he devil himself. He pushed her forward and she stumbled into a group of people who seemed to be listening to someone in the center of the group. She grimaced when she saw the man they were all listening to. He wasn't at all attractive. What did he have to say to make them listen so intently?
And why did he bring me here?
Then, the two men, the man who still held her arm and the man with everyone's attention, made eye contact with each other.The hard man spoke up first.
"Teacher," he said in a teasing tone, " This woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?"
Rizpah had never felt more humiliated. Everyone was staring at her. The man in the center of the group acted as though he had not heard the question. Instead, he bent down and started writing in the dust. As he wrote, the stillness died away as the people became restless and started to whisper. She strained her ears to hear what they were saying.
"Why is he writing in the dirt?"
"I think I know that woman..."
"I think they should just stone her."
"That's what the Law says to do."
"What do you think Jesus will do?"
Jesus. This man was Jesus? The Son of God? The Messiah? The one prophesied about? She had heard stories about him, and now her fate rested in his hands. Oh, God.
The hard man's grip became even tighter as he continued questioning Him.
Finally, Jesus straightened and everyone became still. And quiet. He spoke quietly, but firmly, with unexpected authority.
"If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Then he started writing on the ground again.
She could feel the likenesses of His voice, calm and quiet, and the voice that had given her peace on the way up the hill.
Rizpah looked around and saw several people looking at her, with guilty eyes. One by one, everyone started to leave. When she felt the hand that had been gripping her arm let go, she looked up at him. He was already turning to leave, hatred and fear in his eyes. This must be a powerful man.
She was standing, staring at Jesus when she realized it was just Him and her left.
Her standing. Him stooping.
When he straightened once more, he looked around in question. A knowing question.
"Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you?" he asked.
Her voice quivered as she replied, " No one, sir."
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared," Go now and leave your life of sin."
She turned and started walking down the hill. Desperate for one last look at him, she turned, and was surprised to see him watching her leave. He was looking at her. No, he was looking through her. He could see her insides, her thoughts, her heart. She felt him calling to her. By name, even though he had not spoke it aloud. Then he smiled, and she smiled back a smile of gratitude and devotion. She turned back around and thought about what he had said. "Go and leave your life of sin," she repeated to herself. She knew he was not only talking about last night, but every time she had gone against her husband or shown her children the same disrespect they showed her. Then, there at the bottom of the hill, she fell to her knees. All of the sudden, she realized that the God of all creation, had had mercy on her. A sinner. And a sinner who would no doubt betray him again, and again, and again...
When I first read John 8:1-11, my first thought was, Oh how merciful God is! The I read it again. And again. And God revealed something else to me. I have stoned so many people in my life. Yes, every time I judged someone in my heart, I did. And I felt so guilty. Believe it or not, I was actually kind of stunned that He showed me this simple truth so bluntly. (well, obviously it wasn't so simple since I hadn't ever realized it before.) Then after I asked for forgiveness, I asked for Him to help me not do that anymore. I want to "leave my life of sin". And then, I was grateful that he had even loved me enough to show this to me so I could, in turn, love others better! How cool! He knows what he's doing. Well ,I hope you all got something from that and don't think, man, did shelby ramble today! :) good day to you all!
P.S.--This is just what God allowed my imagination to come up with when I read the story. No names are real, of course, except Jesus'. You can pretty much figure out which parts I got from scripture and which parts I came up with by reading John 8:1-11. hehehe, now you have to read it! :)
Have a great day everyone! :)