Through out the years the story of the woman caught in adultery, and brought to Jesus (John 8), has been discussed. Many people have also speculated as to what Jesus was writing in the dust that caused the accusing crowd to disappear. The truth of the matter is we may never know for the Text doesn’t tell us, but I’d like to add another possibility to those already being discussed.
In examining the story why are the leaders bringing this woman to the Jesus? Are they bringing her to him to help her? No, they’re bringing this woman to Jesus in hopes they can gain something from her situation. The people in the place of authority are using the situation of the one in position of weakness to gain something for themselves. The leaders that brought the woman are using her situation in an attempt of trapping Jesus for the purpose of proving that Jesus doesn’t follow the Law of Moses.
Jeremiah 17:11-13 says this:
“Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools. A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.“
In that Text the partridge is taking the eggs of other birds for the purpose of gaining something. The picture is used to describe “those who gain riches by unjust means.” As the Text continues it moves into discussing those who forsake you. The connection can be made that “those who gain riches by unjust means” forsake the Lord. What happens to those people? The Text says, “you will be written in the dust…” The dust in Israel is so fine that it only takes a light wind to disturb the dust and blow away anything “written in the dust.”
There is an ancient rabbinical saying about those in place of authority taking advantage of those in a place of weakness that says, “may your name be written in the dust.”
Could it be that Jesus is simply writing names in the dust of those who are in a place of authority and are taking advantage of a woman who is in a place of weakness? Could Jesus be writing the names of those who are trying to use someone else’s situation to gain something for their personal use?
Personal Reflection: How have we used our place of authority to gain from others? Perhaps as parents we us our place of authority to get what we want from our kids? Or as employers we us unjust means to gain from those who work for us? Or as friends we use unjust means to get our friends to make certain decisions?