The wind caressed His face and played with His hair. His upturned face glowed with the light of the star-studded sky. The cold bit through His robe, and His body ached with the strain of the day before. With distress of mind, He stood alone, thinking. Usually He was able to shake this loneliness that sometimes engulfed Him, but tonight was different. Tonight it seemed as though it just might conquer Him.
Doubt filled His mind with questions about His effectiveness on earth. It was hard to understand why the people could not grasp the reason for His teaching or His deep concern for their welfare. At times it seemed hopeless, but because He loved them, He knew He could not give up.
From where He stood He could see the sleeping city below. The empty streets and shops would soon be filled with people. He longed to teach them what His Father was really like but His time was short and their hearts seemed dulled to undertanding.
He sat down on a rock and put His face in His hands. His mind drifted back over the past. Back through the struggle in the wilderness and His baptism, all the way to His childhood. All this He remembered as though it had happened yesterday. But one event stood out. It had occurred when He was just a boy...
The weather had been beautiful, that day long ago. He had finished breakfast and gone to draw water from the well for His mother. Though not quite eleven, He was big for his age, and the work he did for His father in the carpentry shop had greatly strengthened Him.
He was not far from the well when he came upon a small group of boys, teasing a young girl. The girl came from a home that was ostracized because her father was a tax collector for the Romans. He had heard her being teased about it before.
She must have come for water also, because her jar lay broken a short distance away from where she stood. The boys surrounded her to prevent escape, taunting her mercilessly.
'Your daddy's a Roman!' shouted one.
'Traitor!' screamed another.
Then one of them grabbed her shawl. She cried out, trying in vain to get it back. They tossed it back and forth among themselves, letting it fall in the dirt. Suddenly, while chasing one of them, she tripped on her skirt and fell to the ground. The boys laughed and jeered as tears welled up in her eyes, and streaked her face.
He quickly set His jar down, and began running to her rescue. He had almost reached her when an adult voice rang out.
'Jonathan, get back over here this instant! Hurry up with that water!' A heavyset woman was walking down the path. Red-faced and winded, she grabbed one of the boys by the ear, and dragged him after her. The rest of the group scattered to avoid similar punishment at the hands of their mothers.
He went over to where the girl's shawl was and picked it up. He brushed off the weeds, then walked over to her and held out His hand to help her up. Her black hair was matted, and she looked up at Him through muddy brown eyes, as though expecting Him to laugh or throw the shawl in her face. All she saw in His eyes, however, was compassion.
She took His hand, and He pulled her up and handed her the shawl. 'Thank You,' she whispered as she turned away from Him and started home.
'Wait!' He called. 'Here, take My jar. But let Me fill it with water for you first.' He turned to the well and swiftly drew up the water. After He placed the jar in her arms, He helped arrange the shawl about her shoulders. He watched her turn and make her way back up the path to her home before returning to His own. His parents had understood about the missing jar...
Footsteps on the path brought Him back to reality. Morning had come. 'Master?' came a whisper.
It was John. Jesus looked up and smiled. 'Good morning, John,' He said as He stood up and grasped the other's hand. John smiled back.
Jesus turned to look at the rising sun, and His face reflected its glory. Breathing one last prayer for strength, He pivoted and headed back toward the city.
When He entered it, He was greeted by a group of children. They clamored about Him on all sides as He made His way to the Temple. At least they accepted Him for who He was! By the time He reached the Temple a crowd had formed around Him, and He began to teach them there.
While He was teaching, some Pharisees and scribes approached Him. They had a woman with them. The group of men threw her at His feet. 'Teacher,' one of them said, 'this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Moses said in the Law that such should be stoned to death. What do you say?'
Jesus knew she wasn't the one on trial. He was. She was merely a pawn in their scheme to trap Him. His heart filled with pity. Sighing, He knelt in the dirt beside her and began writing in the dust with His finger. The men grew impatient with His apparent delay and demanded an answer, so Jesus straightened and met them with a challenge. 'Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone.'
He bent and continued writing in the dirt. One by one they peered over His shoulder then drifted away without looking back.
Finally, Jesus was alone with the woman. As she raised her head and looked into His face, a flood of memories washed across His mind. The black hair, the brown eyes, the tear-streaked face...
'Woman, where are your accusers?' He asked, 'Is there no one here to condemn you?'
Timidly, she looked around before replying, 'No one, Lord.' She whispered it again, unbelievingly, 'No one.'
'I don't accuse you, either,' He said as He helped her to her feet, 'Go and sin no more."
She gazed into His face, her eyes brimming with thankfulness. The earthen jar He had given her in childhood could not compare with what He gave her now. She whispered her gratitude, then slowly walked away--transformed!
The loneliness and distress rolled from His shoulders as He watched her go. Seeing her joy and newness of life was like a fountain pouring into Him the strength He needed to go on. With renewed vigor, he turned again to the crowd that remained and continued teaching them there.
The Pleasure of His Company - Where Are Your Accusers?
Copyright © 1994, written by Lee Venden