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What Did Jesus Write On The Temple Ground In Jerusalem?

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/23/2006 | Religion
The Holy Bible has many areas where things are often merely implied, sometimes left unsaid, and at other times, a test to your powers of reasoning. One such area that has intrigued Bible readers over the centuries is the question: "What did Jesus write on the Temple ground in Jerusalem?"

The scene is early morning in the Temple. Jesus has just come down from the Mount of Olives, and is teaching the people gathered in the Temple precincts. The scribes and Pharisees drag in a woman, caught in the very act of adultery, and shove her in front of Jesus.

"Teacher," they said to Jesus, "this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In our Law, Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?" ( John 8:4-5 )

Their words underlined the fact that the Mosaic law was very clear to all of them. The punishment for adultery was death by stoning. Normally, they would have wasted no time giving vent to their sadistic nature. But, these guys had it in for Jesus, and they saw a golden opportunity to 'kill two birds with one stone'!

The scribes and Pharisees had caught the woman red-handed and knew the law thoroughly, but they were putting Jesus in a dreadful dilemma. If he endorsed the Mosaic law, his teaching of love, mercy and compassion would not only be dented, but he would seriously be challenging the prevalent Roman law, which forbade any Jew to pass, or carry out, a death sentence on anyone.

On the other hand, if he said that the woman should be pardoned, he would not only be breaking the Mosaic law, but he would also be declaring "open season" for adultery!

Caught on the horns of this dilemma, "...he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger." ( John 8:6 ) The Bible doesn't tell us what Jesus wrote on the ground with his finger, so it gives rise to different possibilities and interpretations.

Was he simply doodling and playing for time while he pondered on the dilemma before him? Again, since Jesus always prayed to God the Father for guidance, was he buying time till he got his Divine answer?

It is suggested that Jesus was indeed playing for time, while he deliberately closed his ears to the scribes and Pharisees to force them to keep on repeating their charges, so that they would expose their sadistic nature to themselves.

Another interesting suggestion is that Jesus was filled with such a deep sense of embarrassment and confusion, at the naked cruelty of the very teachers of the Law, that he stooped down to write with his finger on the ground to avoid meeting the lustful eyes of the scribes and Pharisees, as well as the woman's shame of guilt.

However, the most plausible explanation would be, that Jesus was confronting the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees with a record of their own sins. Jesus bent down to write on the ground the sins of the very men who were accusing the woman.

But they, in their desire to destroy Jesus, did not read the writing on the ground. He had to straighten up and remind them: "...Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her." ( John 8:7 ) He then bent down again to write on the ground the next batch of their sins.

God, in His Infinite Wisdom, has designed a man's hand such, that every time he points accusingly at his brother, he will have three of his own fingers pointing back at him! So, although we don't actually know what Jesus wrote on the dusty Temple ground in Jerusalem that day, you can be sure that whatever it was, it certainly told the scribes and Pharisees that they were "hypocrites"!