Playin’ in the Dirt

Vol. 7, No. 23 – June 12, 2022

The Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and placing her in the midst they said to Him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So, what do you say? –John 8:3-5

Have you ever enjoyed playin’ in the dirt? Donna and I did just that this past Spring. Except that at our age, we elected to hire some folks from Pike Nurseries to do the bulk of the work. There were also some folks from Appalachian Landscapes involved. I did arrange some stones and planted some small flowers for color in an adjacent area. But that was it. Now we are enjoying watching things grow.

Jesus was getting ready to teach. He did a lot of that. This time it was in the Temple Courts. It was at a peak in His ministry. The religious leaders were jealous, possessive, and positional. You have probably never met someone like that. Or have you?

When I teach, I stand. Always have. There are times when I sit on a stool to teach, trying to give my feet a rest. 🙂

Jesus sat. It was a sign in those days. Teaching time was on. A crowd begins to gather . . . to listen. This time is significantly different. There is a disturbance. The noise begins to overflow where He sits to teach. The teachers of the Law (Pharisees) grab a woman and drag her to where Jesus is seated. They did not really care about the woman; they wanted to put Jesus in a spot.

So, the woman is flung at His feet. The “religious” folks loudly announced the woman’s sin. She is trapped. Humiliated. She stares at the ground. She anticipates being stoned.

Teacher! A “religionist” plows ahead. He is looking for a double-kill. The woman and Jesus. He mocks Jesus by calling Him teacher. This woman was caught in the act of adultery! In the Law, Moses . . .. he is taking pleasure in confronting Jesus.

How often do folks take pleasure in trying to put you, the believer, on the spot? Or, how often have you taken the place of a Pharisee to confront who you believe is a sinner. Religionists, and legalists, can be smug. The Pharisees think they have Jesus in a corner. They think. But for all their intelligence, they do not think well.

As I write this, I cannot help but think about how the coyotes gathered here move in on their prey. Usually, only one confronts their intended kill. Wears them out. Then the others join. Their prey does not have a chance. The coyotes yip and howl. Often their prey gives up.

Was Jesus at a loss? No! As He bends over, at first glance He plays in the dirt. Maybe He is just getting His thoughts together. Perhaps playin’ in the dirt is a diversion. It is not–He knows exactly what He is doing.

Jesus is never at a loss for words. He waits for the right time. Wish we could do that. Jesus finishes His writing in the dirt. His timing is perfect. He speaks. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. As He stood up [He] said to them, let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.

The teachers of the Law, thinking that they had Him, did not know what a buzzsaw they were exposing themselves to.

This is not an unfamiliar passage to us. Why did He write in the dirt with His finger? What were His thoughts? Consider that creation was accomplished by His hand. Consider also, that playin’ in the dirt was no play at all.” These religionists, the crowd, and even the woman were all created from the dust of the ground [or moldable clay designed to be formed just as a potter would). The potter is God. The origin was dust, and to dust will created-humans’ return.

Life Application

If any of you are without sin, you cast the first stone. It is a confronting moment. 2 Peter 3:9 informs us: The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. His focus was to bring people to repentance. To accept His finished work on the cross. To receive the gift of eternal life. Love, grace, and mercy flow from Him.

What kind of a person are we to want to take judgment into our own hands? We have not formed the other person. We cannot mold a person’s life in just the way it ought to be. We are not God, that we should make a final judgment.

There is much we can do and ought to do. God gives us that opportunity. We recently had a dedication service for parents to bring their child before the church, asking the congregation to join them in presenting the gospel to their child, asking the church to commit to those families. It is always a special moment.

With Jesus, all of a sudden, righteousness enters the conversation. The Pharisees are stunned. This is not the way things were supposed to go.

Have you ever had the experience of having dirt in your mouth? I think that is what these religionists experienced. Not literally. But they felt as though it was their experience. We have had those moments.

Jesus went back to writing in the dirt. It was a time of getting the Pharisees to think about what they were up to. Do you ever experience the up comings from an attempt to confront someone with your wrong-directed heart?

Woman, where are they? Why not go? Leave your life of sin? I do not condemn you.

He just wrote on the ground, in the dirt, and life changed that day for the woman. It can also change us.

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