Neither Do I

They rushed into the dimly lit room, roughly pulling the poorly dressed young woman into the glaring sunlight of the outer court, while her escort for the hour quietly counted the money that they handed him.  Trying to resist, she fell heavily to the rocky ground as she was once again jerked to her feet and pushed into the courtyard where she was heartlessly thrown to the stone paved floor.

It was mid morning as she lay motionless in the middle of a group of people who had gathered to hear the young man speak of his passionate fervor for love, truth and forgiveness.  An immediate quietness fell upon everyone as she lay heavily breathing, panting for her next breath as streams of dust caked sweat ran down her sun darkened face.

The silence seemed to last forever, and then it was callously broken by the harsh voice of one of her assailants as he addressed the young speaker, “You, who so confidently believes in and loves truth!  This outcast of a woman has been taken while in the very act of adulterous immorality” and then he paused while slowly looking over the entire crowd allowing the accusation to have its nasty affect.  He continued, “You speak of doing what is right!  You know very well what our law says about such a crime as this!  She must be put death by stoning right here and now!”  Again he and his group of conspirators searched the eyes of the mass of people who were deliberately and slowly forming a wall of bodies around the woman and the teacher.  Certainly the teacher of love and forgiveness would now be forced to make the choice to allow her to be put to death and in so doing would contradict the very teachings that he so fervently advocated.  With a cruel and malignant voice the assailant added, “What do you say; master?”

The teacher stood silent, then stooped to the hard packed floor and began to calmly write invisible letters with his finger on the stones.  The crowd pressed in closer on all sides, as if they were being drawn by some unspoken command; straining to hear; every one waiting on the judgment of the master. The young woman’s heart began to race as the shadows of people surrounded her in the sticky, humid morning air.  From her position she could only see the hand of the teacher tracing letters on the pavement.  In her heart came a vision of God, writing with His finger upon stone, the very law that would now end her meaningless and hopeless life.  Again the conspirators, rocks in hand and positioned for releasing their hatred, pressed him for his verdict; “Well!” they said with contempt, “what do you have to say NOW!?”

The young man arose confidently in their midst and spoke with a strong, clear voice, “Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone” and then again stooped to the ground and continued writing on the stoned floor.  Though he never raised his voice, it seemed to echo throughout the courtyard.  As an arrow in flight, it sought and hit every heart and conscience in the assembly.  One by one her indictors began walking away until there was no one but the defenseless young lady and the master.

Standing again, and walking to the woman who was still lying in a heap on the hard, dusty floor; he gently addresses her saying, “Woman, where are your accusers?  Does no one condemn you?”  She, looking up for the first time, found the soft, brown, compassionate eyes of the master looking upon her with love and forgiveness; and through sobs and in tears responded, “No man… has… condemned me, Sir.”  Then came the voice of love, the voice of truth, the voice of forgiveness, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”

Quickly she stood and ran, leaving the empty courtyard; stopping at the gate, and turning back to look upon the one who stood as her advocate.  For the first time in her life she felt the freedom to begin a new life.  The power and authority of his words had given her hope, the hope that was needed for her to know that she could go forth and forsake the life of misery that had bound her for so many years.

And now, standing at the foot of his cross, looking into those same soft brown, loving eyes, between ragged and gasping breaths I heard him say of his own accusers, the same message that he spoke to me only several months before, “Father,… forgive them… they do not know what they are doing.”

 

James Bello

 

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