What Did Jesus Write on the Ground

Judgment, death by stoning

Over the years I have heard many suggestions about what it could have been that Jesus wrote in the gravel on the stones of the temple. Some say that He listed all their sins. Recently, I heard in a sermon something that made a bit more sense. To me anyway.

The incident I am talking about is the one mentioned in the gospel of John, Chapter Eight.

He (Jesus) came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
Jo 8: 2 -5

Question – how did they ‘catch her in adultery?’

Continuing…

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
Jo 8: 6b

What did Jesus write?

Background:
In the time of Jesus, the Jews did not have the authority to execute sinners. If Jesus had said to stone her, the scribes and Pharisees could have taken Him to the Roman authorities. If Jesus had said not to stone her, before all the people following Him and listening to His teaching the scribes and Pharisees could have accused Him of not keeping the Law.

brought to Jesus for judgment
Sketch by Rembrandt - PD-1923}} – published anywhere before 1923 and public domain in the U.S.

Other than the fact the scribes and Pharisees were trying to find a cause to accuse Him, what was the law they were talking about?

It can be found in Leviticus 20, verse 10.

‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”

Question: Where was the man? The law they were referring to, above, clearly says both shall be put to death.

There is another scripture involved here…

At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deuteronomy 17: 6

Question: Where were the witnesses? The scribes and Pharisees did not ‘see’ the act of adultery. They had been on duty in the temple.

Herod's Temple as imagined in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem. By Berthold Werner [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Was what Jesus wrote something to do with these questions?

If so, it was, as the preacher I heard, say… a mistrial.

And when Jesus lifted Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are your accusers? Did anyone condemn you?’ And she said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you…
John 8: 10, 11

Note: Jesus said He did not condemn her, He did not say He forgave her.

The rest of verse 11 is “go and sin no more.”

Just thinking again,

Susan