What Would Jesus Write?


“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.”  John 8:6

PB preached on John 8:1-11 on Sunday.  There’s a lot going on in those eleven verses and I have a whole string of questions that are stirring in my heart and mind.  But one of the most intriguing parts of this scene is when Jesus wrote something on the ground with his finger.  It is the only instance in recorded scripture of Jesus writing anything.  The Word became flesh, but didn’t write a single word of scripture.  That’s fascinating.

A woman (the sinner) caught in the act of adultery stood before Jesus, as her accusers (the church folks) beat her up with Bible verses.  Meanwhile, Jesus stooped down and doodled in the dirt.  Or did He?  What would Jesus write?  Well, I read about 25 commentaries on this passage and they all started out by stating, “There is no way of knowing what Jesus wrote on the ground, but it’s possible that….”  And so the conjecture begins.  Here are some theories:

1)  Jesus stooped down and scribbled in the dirt to collect himself because he was so angry with the Pharisees and because He didn’t want to bring further shame to the woman.

2)  Jesus wanted to give the Pharisees a chance to stop their vendetta against Him at the expense of this woman.  He was hoping they would hear themselves and recognize how evil they sounded.

3)  Jesus began to write a list of sins that the Pharisees had commiteed and were now committing.

4)  Jesus began to write a list of woman’s names and addresses – the name of each accuser’s girlfriend.

5)  Jesus was just following proper Roman judicial practices by writing out the sentence before pronouncing it.

6)  Jesus drew a picture.  (However, the Greek makes it clear Jesus wrote words.)

7)  Jesus wrote out the 10 Commandments.

8)  Jesus wrote the Pharisees’ names in the dust along with Jeremiah 17:13.  (“O Lord, 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”)

Care to weigh in?  Cast a vote?  What do you think Jesus wrote?

9 thoughts on “What Would Jesus Write?

  1. For a serious answer 🙂

    I think this is one of Jesus’ “parables of action” – like calming the storm. A physical way to reference Jeremiah 17:13 to get the Pharisees’ attention. “O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.”

    The scribes and Pharisees always hear but don’t understand so this may have been a way of Jesus indicating to them that they’d turned away from the fountain of living water. Fits in the book of John where Jesus uses that imagery.

  2. PB’s sermon Sunday really struck a chord with me! In the past when I have read John 8:1-11, I have always reacted strongly against the Pharisees. I would picture myself standing before them saying something like, “How dare you judge this woman when YOU don’t even recognize Jesus! YOUR sin is greater than hers, you lovers of the law, you NOT- lovers of Jesus!” (bad grammar but remember I am standing in front of the Pharisees, spewing my scoldings at them and stomping my foot. I know, it isn’t pretty). As PB put it, the purpose of my response to them would be to make them feel worse about THEIR sin – not to show them the truth, the light. How many times have I done that!?
    It kept coming to my mind…….could he be writing, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” It would be in Jesus’ character to do that in place of the spanking they deserved.

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