Stone Silence

Jesus went to the mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down, and taught them.

And the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say to Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you? This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse him.

But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? has no man condemned thee?”

She said, No man, Lord.

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying, “I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.[1]

What was Jesus writing on the ground?

The ancient Church Fathers teach us that Jesus was writing the sins, first of the men, and then of the woman. And this goes back to Saint Paul:

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

That Jesus writes the sins of the men who could read is proven by what they do in response; “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last…” They saw their sins, and heard His answer, and went away. Jesus then clears writing on the ground.

He writes her sins. But unlike the men, she could not read. Jesus wiped away the men’s sins with His feet, and He will wipe her sins away with His feet, for the Serpent shall bruise the heel, but Christ will crush the head; “And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shall you go, and dust shalt you eat all the days of thy life.

The Serpent eats dust, and we are dust and to dust we return. And the writing on the ground is literally “cursive.”

There is more to the story of course. Later on:

“And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with Him. And He went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.[2]

I believe this is the same woman, and this makes perfect sense because when she realized what the Lord did for her, she cleansed His feet with her tears, and dried it with her hair. And Mary, the sister of Lazarus, would recreate this act again after Jesus raised her brother from the dead.

The Holy women understood what this meant.

In doing this Jesus taught the true meaning of the law to stone at the gate without pity. The gate is the mouth, Pei, that Jesus assaults with Himself in the Real Presence. Jesus enters the grave of our bodies to arise again and lift us up with Him, writing our sins in the dust.

Reading and the Iconography of Ancient Hebrew

Let us come to tears and follow Christ.

[1] John 8:1-12

[2] Luke 7:36-38

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