Why did Jesus write in the sand? (<-- Click to listen to the broadcast)

John Chapter 8: Why and what did Jesus write in the sand? (From my manuscript: Friday Night)

Why Did Jesus Write In The Dirt?

(Copyright @2009 by Yonko Mali, All rights reserved.)

My Bible Topic for today “Why Did Jesus Write In The Dirt” based on Chapter 8 of John’s Gospel. John Chapter 8 is about how the temple authorities brought a woman who was accused of adultery before Jesus to be judged.

In my previous program last week, I presented a mostly fictitious stories based on this Chapter 8 of John’s Gospel from my manuscript called Friday Night. My fictitious story was about Isaac who was standing behind Jesus with a stone in his hand when he sees Jesus write in the dirt – he sees Jesus write his name and his sin in the dirt!

So today I promised I would explain why I told you about one of my fictitious stories. I made up that story because I have always been intrigued about this Chapter in John’s Gospel. It describes how Jesus was writing in the dirt as the authorities badgered him about a woman who was accused of committing adultery. Have you ever wondered why did Jesus write in the dirt? And what did he write? Was he just doodling or was he writing something meaningful? The Gospel does not say. So I am going to present to you my research into why I think Jesus wrote in the dirt and even speculate on what Jesus may have written in the dirt.

First, did you know that there are several times in the Bible where God writes with his finger. I want to quickly mention, 3 of the times that God wrote with his finger. The first occurs in Exodus where God writes the Ten Commandments onto two stone tablets with his finger.

The second time, in the Old Testament, that God writes with his finger is the famous Writing on the Wall that occurs in Daniel. The famous, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.”

Now the third time God writes in the dirt - is as the God-man Jesus - in this story about the women accused of adultery in John Chapter 8.

The first time God wrote with his finger in Exodus, he wrote the Ten Commandments. The second time in Daniel that He wrote with his finger, it was a condemnation of those arrogant peoples for not following his laws. And the third time, in John Chapter 8, it appears Jesus was also writing a condemnation. Or was Jesus writing a Pardon for Sins? Let’s listen to John Chapter 8:

[Play John Chapter 8]

On a side note, did you notice that Jesus never stands up. He straightens up but he never stands up. That’s because he is sitting to judge this woman. He keeps sitting and writing in the dirt.
Jesus is sitting because Judges sit. Even Pontius Pilate was seating on the Judgement Seat when he condemned Jesus to death. And Jesus will sit at the right hand of God to judge the living and the dead.

But let’s review the story in John Chapter 8: the temple authorities bring a woman accused of adultery to Jesus and they said to Jesus that the Law requires that such a woman to be stoned to death; which implied that they had enough evidence. But it was not clear if they had already put her on trial and/or if they had already questioned the witnesses. In either case, they had not yet pronounced judgment but instead they dragged her out to Jesus. Also it looks like this woman may have indeed commit adultery because at the end of the story, Jesus tells her to “go and leave her life of sin.”

So they brought this woman to Jesus. If he was a prophet, then he should be able to discern if she was guilty or not. But this could also be a way of trapping Jesus.

You see, Jesus had forgiven some people of their sins, like the crippled man. But the sins of those people whom Jesus had forgiven had not been accused of any crime. Here was a woman accused of adultery, apparently even caught in the very act of adultery so there must have been witnesses willing to testify against her. So would Jesus fulfill the law or would he forgive her sins?

But let’s look at Numbers starting at verse 5:11. It’s in verses starting at Numbers 5:11 (and specifically 5:23), which gave me my insight into WHY Jesus wrote in the dirt and even WHAT he may have written. These verses in Numbers also talk about adultery; this section has been called The Test for An Unfaithful Wife.

The Test for an Unfaithful Wife
In Numbers5:11, the priest brings the woman accused of adultery and has her stand before the Lord and has her take an oath. He also sweeps up some dust and dirt from the tabernacle floor and puts that dirt into cup of holy water from the tabernacle. The priest also pronounces a curse that if she is guilty, then when she drinks the dirty water, she will get deathly sick but if she is innocent, then she will not be harmed by drinking that cup of dirty water. But before she drinks that cup, the priest also writes down the curses that he pronounced on a scroll. Then he takes some holy water and rinses the scroll of curses into the cup of dirty water. So now the dirty cup of water has the curses in it as well. Then she is made to drink that cup of dirty water.
Jesus Drinks the cup of dirty water.

It is these versus starting in Numbers 5:11, which gave me the idea of why I think Jesus wrote in the dirt and what he probably had written.

I believe that Jesus wrote this woman’s name and her sins in the dirt in order to forgive her for her sins! What, how is that. In order for Jesus to forgive this woman’s sins and to let her go, to give her a pardon for her sins, he had to first write down her sins and put them in a cup of water and then he needed to drink that cup of filthy water.

Jesus knew that very soon he would have to drink the cup of sin. This cup would contain not only this woman’s sin of adultery, it would contain your sin and my sin, it would contain the sin of Adam, it would contain all sin that has been! or would ever be committed!
What a dirty, bitter cup!

No wonder in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays to the Father to take away this cup.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Did you ever wonder what cup Jesus was referring to here while he was praying feverishly to His Father? It was this bitter cup of sin.

And do you also remember what immediately preceded the Garden of Gethsemane? It was the Last Supper. Now it was the Messianic Jews who first notice the strange thing that happened during the Last Supper. They noticed that Jesus stopped the celebration of the Passover. The disciples and he never finished the Passover. Did you know that?

During the Passover Meal, there are certain ceremonies to be performed of prayers, blessings, and cups of wine to drink. You see when Jesus and his disciples were celebrating the Passover, Jesus and his disciples eat the bread and drank the wine, then Jesus did something radical, something new, he changed the cup of the covenant of the Passover Meal to a new covenant.
And it appears that Jesus left the Passover Meal and went to the Garden to pray. Apparently he and his disciples never finished the drinking the other cups of wine of the Passover meal. There are multiple cups of wine to be celebrated with and each has a name and a purpose.

So it appears that Jesus and his disciples never finished the Passover Meal in the old tradition. But Jesus would finish the New Passover as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He would drink that cup of condemnation for us. That cup of condemnation, that cup of sin, that he would drink - would become our cup of redemption. We drink this new cup of redemption during Easter and during every Communion meal and someday we will then finish the new Passover Meal with Jesus in Heaven where we will celebrate a big feast and drink the last cup of the Passover Meal, the cup of Celebration with Jesus. Boy what a good party that is going to be.

So you see I believe that everything in the Bible is woven together in an intricate, and unique way. The Bible is so elegant it must be inspired.

I believe that Jesus was purposefully writing in the dirt. He was writing the sin of that adulterous woman and he was writing the sins of all of us. He would not only drink that fifthly cup of sin, but digest it all and eliminate it as if sin never existed. He will separate our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. As if we never sinned. Isn’t that amazing. All things are possible with our great God and How great a Love he has for us!

So come and join the party. Come and celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Drink the cup of redemption now which is Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins, enjoy the salvation, the Love, and the Hope of Eternal Life. Change your life, change your mind, repent and look forward to drinking the cup of celebration with Jesus in heaven.