Her tormentors pushed her down the dusty street before them,never slacking their pace even when she stumbled and fell. With each fall, they forced her to her feet,half pushing,half dragging her along the way. Her tired body was bruised and battered, but because of her fear of them she somehow managed to go on. The gathering crowd of people along the way, instead of offering help,only laughed and jeered as the angry men vented their frustration at her because of her repeated falls. They were oblivious to her pain and felt no pity for her, because after all,she was one of the lewd women of the city, and not one who would get their help. There was no one to help her.
The men continued to push and drag her along the way. The bedraggled woman fell again, this time she couldn’t muster enough strength to get up. Her strength was gone, her will was broken, she could not go on. She lay there, her mind numb from the pain of her ordeal. She thought of the pain of her youth and could not remember a time when her life was not filled with torment. The innocence of her youth, long since lost, was now only a memory and that memory somehow now seemed to press in upon her.
She was the only daughter in her family. Her two younger brothers, each born within a year of the other,always seemed to be the focus of her parents attention. They were doted on, but she always seemed to be an annoyance, always in the way. Although she had not seen them for some time, she remembered them as healthy, good-looking young men, but spoiled, always wanting their own way and usually getting it. But then, who was she to have such feelings about others? Her brothers now had families of their own, and were respected by their parents and friends. And like their father, they held positions of importance and were well known men in the city. She could not blame them for not wanting to be associated with her. It seemed to her that she was destined to be forever forgotten. How she yearned for her family’s love and attention. Now it appeared all hope for that was gone. She was going to die at the hands of her oppressors. But death to her somehow felt like a way out of her misery; a climax to her pain; an end to a lifetime of hurting.
As she lay there contemplating her fate, a terrible memory, long suppressed, suddenly forced its way into her mind. She remembered with awful clarity the primary reason she was not wanted by her family. Her father was a man whose past was marred by the indiscretion of his youth. It was his reckless behavior that had brought her into the world; a world which for her was to be filled with confusion and emptiness. Abandoned by her real mother, her new mother reluctantly took over the responsibility of rearing his illegitimate daughter, but she could never bring herself to love her. It was as though she blamed her step-child for all that was wrong in her own personal life. They all considered her an outsider, a nuisance, an embarrassment, someone to be ignored and forgotten. Although living in the same house she was never allowed to be part of their lives. They had abandoned her and because of that, she had long since abandoned them.
She had barely survived, working at menial jobs, providing for herself just enough to get by. Then, tragically, late one evening when returning from a job, she was accosted by a group of men who repeatedly raped her. She was never the same again. Her life from that point became a downward spiral. Forsaken by her family and with no source of income, she resorted to a life of prostitution in an attempt to survive. And now her life was to end.
She lay on the ground at the feet of those who would be her executioners. She waited, expecting at any moment to feel the crushing blows of the stones that would be thrown by the impatient, angry men. As she lay there she heard them say, “Master, this woman was taken in the very act of adultery. The law commands that such be stoned to death. But what do you say?” The woman knew that what they said was true, but why were they talking to this man; who was he and what would be his reply?
Not hearing him reply, she sensed that he was kneeling by her side and through tear-dimmed eyes she saw him writing with his finger in the sand. He stood and she then heard him say to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Again, she sensed him kneeling by her side and saw him write again in the sand. As he arose the second time he gently helped the accused woman to her feet. Getting to her feet, she saw the words written by the gentle, soft-spoken man. The words were simple, but profound and straight to her heart;words that she knew instantly had changed her life forever. Again he spoke, but this time directly to her, “Woman, where are those who would condemn you?”
Her tormentors were gone, driven away by their own guilty consciences, and by the gentle-piercing words of her Savior. Then she heard him say, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Her life, now spared, was suddenly filled with a wonderful sense of peace and joy. She now knew what it was to be loved and to have a purpose for living. Her life would never be the same because of the words He had written in the sand and in her heart—-“forever forgiven!”