The Feast of Tabernacles is a wonderful time in Jerusalem. It is a feast that lasts for seven days and people from all over the country would come and build booths of palm fronds on every open space and on their roof tops or compounds. Unless it rained no one entered inside his house, and there was enough food and drinks to go around as people shared freely in love.

The last night of the feast was always rowdy and sometimes people got a bit tipsy and did things they wouldn’t do normally. That was why I got into one of the booths with the man that had been so kind and generous. It was a decision I will live to regret forever. He was a bit tipsy and I was tired. My feeble resistance meant nothing to him, in fact it seemed like I was encouraging him with my pleas. But before I could know what was happening, someone had raised an alarm and I was dragged out of the booth – naked.

I was raised in a pious Jewish home; I knew what the Torah said about my condition. I knew they would call my father and my husband and the person that raised the alarm to cast the first stones. I knew I had come to the end of my life, because of a careless mistake that I didn’t plan to make.

The law required that I be taken to the temple where I will be given the bitter waters – mere formality because I was caught in the act. The priest would read the Law of Moses to me and will tell me that they were cleansing Israel of my sin, then I will be led naked out of the city gate and there my shame will end under a pile of stones.

But at the temple we didn’t meet a priest. We met that young preacher that had caused a stir just the day before when he had shouted with a loud voice, “is any one thirsty? Let him come and drink.” He didn’t even have a booth or a drink and I was one of the people that had laughed at him. But he was the one seated in the temple courts with his followers when I was dragged in.

“Rabbi, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery, and according to the law of Moses she should be stoned to death, what do you say?”

His silence meant I was condemned. I just knew it – silence is consent. But he said nothing to their requests. His only baffling action was to bend down and scratch on the ground – ignoring the whole crowd.

The mob was becoming impatient, it has been a long time since they witnessed a stoning and the timing of this one was especially perfect, just after the feast when the visitors lazed around town before going back to their farms and daily work. But just at the moment it got out of hand Jesus responded, “he that is guiltless and sinless, let him cast the first stone.”

For the first time I suddenly realized the man that had lured me and defiled me was not even there. What a terrible betrayal! I heard a loud thud, but I felt no pain. Maybe he just missed his mark. Then another and another and after what seemed like forever I long silence followed.

Someone, (I don’t know who), came and wrapped me with a cloak. 
“Woman, where are your accusers?”

I looked up and wondered where the crowd was. Yes they were there… a few meters away but they had dropped their stones and their charge against me. 

_“Did no one condemn you?”_
The words actually choked in my throat coming out as a sob. 
_“Neither do I…go and don’t do it again.”_

I made to leave, actually walked to the edge of the crowd, then I asked myself, “where on earth am I going to?” Is it to my father’s house or to my husband’s house? Both men had just carried big stones to kill me. That was when I made up my mind to be his follower, whatever the cost. 

You can therefore imagine the state of my shock, when I witnessed him being stripped naked in Pilate’s judgment porch to be flogged. Only six months have passed since I was in the same position. I could understand better than anyone in that crowd what it meant, to be just minutes away from death. I understood the public shame more than anyone else there that day. I wished I could do something to help him, like he did for me. 

I watched helplessly as the nails were driven into his hands and legs. I cried and fainted and cried some more when I heard his loud screams that seemed to rend the heavens. People thought I was being melodramatic, but I knew if he hadn’t interceded on my behalf I would have been dead six months earlier.

How do you repay a man that saved you from death? I was a victim, yes. A victim of man’s lust. A victim of man’s anger. A victim of man’s law. A victim of my own weaknesses. But him? What did he do? 

Watching him die I could imagine my fate, but it was a bit hard for me to immediately understand that he was dying in my place. Please don’t take it for granted. He died in your place. I am a victim of His grace. And so are you.

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:15-16  (KJV)"

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post