The shame haunts me on a daily basis.
I’ve tried to be a good person, but I always end up failing. It’s not easy. It never has been. I am a woman with needs. I thought once I was married, everything would be perfect. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that is not the case at all. There are times when I still feel alone, unwanted, and not very important. In his eyes, I’m just an object, or more like a slave. He thinks my sole purpose for existing on this earth is to serve him. If I don’t make him happy, he threatens to leave me. How can I continue to live like this?
My mother told me, on numerous occasions, that divorce is a sin. A sin that God will punish severely. I’ve always had a difficult time understanding that. My husband doesn’t beat me, but abuse takes on many different forms. Is it still a sin to leave him? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I’m afraid of what might happen if I leave. I don’t want to disappoint my mother, but most importantly, I don’t want to sin against God. I’m lost and confused and don’t know what to do anymore.
I don’t have anyone I can really talk to. My friends are busy with their own lives, and their own set of problems. I tried to pray, but I just don’t know what to say. How do I even know anyone is up there listening to me? There has been so much talk about God and His Son, Jesus, but I have yet to see anything worth believing in. I’ve heard the stories of miracles being performed, but nothing has ever happened to me personally. I just need something to believe in. Something I can use as my anchor in this world so full of uncertainty and confusion.
I make no excuses for what I’ve done. Yes, my marriage is failing, and I am nothing more than a lost soul searching for help, but I have to face the consequences of my actions. I don’t know what the penalty is, but somehow I will endure it. My mother hasn’t spoken to me in three days. I didn’t think she knew about what happened, but her actions indicate otherwise. I know they will be coming soon to determine my punishment. I just have to be strong.
I hear commotion outside, and I open the front door. Several men, with their long beards and flowing robes, stand there in heated argument. They stop talking as I walk forward. I see my mother standing off to the side, watching intently. My husband is working and will not be around to witness what is happening. The other man is there with the group, looking at me with eyes full of contempt. I don’t understand that. He told me that he loved me.
I stand there, with hands stretched out in a gesture of surrender.
One man walks over to me. “Do you know what sin you have committed?”
I nod and drop my head in shame. “Yes, adultery.”
“Do you know what the penalty is for such a sin?”
“According to the Law of Moses, you are to be stoned to death.”
My heart begins to beat faster, and I swallow the lump of fear that has formed in the back of my throat. These were the teachers of the law. It wasn’t possible they were wrong in their knowledge of sin, or it’s consequences.
He turns to address the small crowd that has gathered, but before he can speak, one of the older men walks over. “Why don’t we take her to the Teacher? The one they call Jesus. Let’s see what he has to say about this woman. If He doesn’t do what is required, we will have reason to suspect His true intentions.”
They all agree. They push me forward toward the temple, and the crowd follows. I feel the eyes of every person staring into my back. I am so ashamed. Not only have I brought disgrace to myself, but I have embarrassed my family as well. I am terrified. I didn’t know the penalty for adultery was death. I have seen people being stoned before, and it’s not a pleasant way to die. Tears stream down my face as we enter the temple courtyard, and I see a large group of people.
They are all standing around listening as someone speaks. As we approach, the crowd turns, and starts to move back, giving us a path. We reach the front of the crowd where the one they call Jesus is sitting. He stops talking and looks at us.
For several moments, there is complete silence. I am trembling as I stand there awaiting my judgement. I keep my head lowered, facing the ground, so he doesn’t see the shame reflecting in my eyes. I begin to hear whispers from the crowd, and my face burns with embarrassment. I try to stop my tears, but it’s futile. The stories of this Jesus have been spreading like wildfire. According to some, He can cast out demons and heal the sick. What will He do to me now?
Two men walk up from behind and force me to my knees. “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. According to the Law of Moses, we are to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?”
I glance up through my tears. Jesus looks at the men for a couple of seconds, and then kneels to the ground. With His finger, He begins to write in the dirt. He says nothing. A murmur trickles through the crowd as He continues to write and ignore the question. I notice that all of the men who came to my house are now holding large rocks.
“Teacher?” the man repeats. “Surely we are to obey the Law of Moses and stone this woman. She has sinned against God. What do you say?”
Jesus writes several more things, and then He stands up. “Let any one of you, who is without sin, throw the first stone.”
The men roughly push me from my knees to a prone position on the ground. I close my eyes and cover my head with both hands. The intense pain of rocks slamming into my body will begin at any moment. It’s often hard to recognize a person after they have been stoned. I wasn’t sure if my mother was still around, but I hoped she wouldn’t remain to watch me die. I was scared, but I knew there must be a consequence to my failure to keep the law. I am a sinner.
I hear the sound of a rock hitting the ground. At first, I assume someone has thrown a stone, and missed. I hear the sound again, and I open my eyes. In utter disbelief, I watch as one by one, the men open their fists and allow the rocks to fall harmlessly to the ground. They slowly turn and walk away. Following their example, the remaining crowd walks away as well. I don’t know what to say or do. Will Jesus stone me Himself? Is that the point of making them all leave? He wants to be the one to punish me?
I rise to my knees and look up. He is staring directly at me. Surprisingly, He is not looking at me with contempt or condemnation. His eyes burn with an expression of love that I have never felt before. What I have done is unforgivable. Am I worthy of this love? How could I have committed such a sin against God, and this man is looking at me with love? Why isn’t He picking up the rocks and stoning me like I deserve?
He smiles and offers His hand. He helps me to my feet. “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?” He asks.
I fight back the sobs that threaten to overtake my entire being. I shake my head. “No one is left, Sir.”
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
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