In the story of The Princess Bride the main character Inigo finally confronts his father’s killer with the words he had waited half his life to say: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Headhunters were pursuing Jesus with increasing intensity as their hatred grew. Even though they had no good reason to hate Him, they were hell-bent to find an excuse to execute Him. According to the Law of Moses, sexual immorality and blasphemy both deserve the death penalty. So the plan was to trap Jesus into saying something that could be used against Him.
When a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus, the idea was to kill two birds with one stone: Jesus for saying something that could be (falsely) interpreted as blasphemy, and the woman for the obvious reason of being caught in the act of illegal sex.
Prepared to die?
Here was their loaded question: “This woman offended the law of Moses, so she dies. Or doesn’t she, Jesus?”
And how did He respond? Jesus stooped down to write in the dirt.
Technically, that’s how mankind started out. God stooped down, got His hands dirty and formed the first man out of clay (Genesis 2:7):
“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”
While it is true that we are made out of clay, dust is not our major component. We come to life through the Spirit of God. That also means that once the Spirit is gone, our life is gone. Only our ashes are left behind as our Spirit returns to God, our Maker (Ecclesiastes 12:7):
“For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
What is true for our bodies is also true for the body of law expressed in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The letter of the law is the mud in God’s hands. Through God’s Spirit the Law of Moses comes alive. However, take the Spirit out of the equation, and the same law kills. We need God’s Spirit to understand what God has to say. Without God’s Spirit everything is futile, just like dust in the wind.
So, Jesus stooped down and wrote in the lifeless dust because no life comes out of accusation and condemnation. The people who brought the adulteress to Jesus were ready to stone her to death. They kept pressuring Jesus saying: “Now what is the verdict?” Jesus finally got up to face all accusers and silenced them once and for all with His priceless answer (John 8:7):
“All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone”
We are all made out of dust. We are all frail and finite. We can all be killed through the letter of the law, because we all make mistakes. But – here is Jesus first dispersing all accusers and then asking you and me: “Now where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” And with everyone who ever was accused of anything we answer: No, Lord, no one accuses us of anything.” And here is Jesus’ encouraging word for us: “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
We get to start over. What a wonderful thing that is!
“Some people say a man is made out of mud
A poor man’s made out of muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong” Tennessee Ernie Ford