By Akin Ojumu

It is a typical Saturday evening. I’m well along in the “kick back and relax” mode of my typical weekend. So, here I am on my lazy-boy recliner, enjoying one of the greatest movies of all time. It is one of those epic movies that you watch over and over again, and they seem new every time you see them. This is an umpteenth time I have watched this particular one, but I have not seen it in a long while. As I watch, the levee of my heart breaks, and tears begin to wash over my soul like a torrent.

As I continue watching, I begin to flip through the pages of the chronicle of His legacy – the Holy Scriptures – in my mind. From Genesis through Lamentations to Revelation, His lamp guides my feet and illuminates my path leading me to His goodness and loving kindness, through all generations.

Flipping through the pages, suddenly I find myself standing on the street of Jerusalem. The Temple of the Most High is but a few yards in the distance. Oh my God! I can see Jesus standing there together with his disciples, they are but a few feet away. Standing on the same spot in shock and dumbfounded, Jesus looks my way and He beckons to me to come and I can’t believe my eyes.

It is a smoldering afternoon in Jerusalem on this fateful day. It is about the 9th hour and the sun pelts the sand with its scorching heat, and the dusts, they rise and fall, as if dancing to the tune of the hot blowing wind. And there I am with the Lord and His disciples, as we sit lounging in the cover of the shadow provided by Jerusalem’s Holy Temple.

Suddenly, a multitude approaches from around the street corner. Pushing and shoving and yelling, they drag along a woman clad in tattered clothing. Oh my world, I know her. I know this woman. This must be Mary, the woman from the district of Magdala.

Mary looks shaken and petrified. Her tear-filled eyes dart here and there in the petrifying fear, she looks like someone who senses the end is near. Barely audible, in a quavering voice, she pleads and begs for mercy as the stone carrying mob hurled all kinds of expletives at her. Unheeding and unyielding, they drag her forward to the feet of the Master, spitting the venom of hate and anger upon her as they come.

“This woman was caught in the act of adultery.” They shouted at Jesus, who by this time is sitting in the sand, “The Law of Moses says to stone her death. What do you say?”

Mary cringes at Jesus’ feet, shrinking in fear. She begins to cry, a deep, rattling shudder that racks her entire body. As she weeps, she seems to crawl deeper into her world of shame and self-condemnation.

Every eye is now intently trained on the Lord, all waiting to see if He’ll fall into the trap, they’ve cunningly laid for Him. But the Lord does not even bulge one bit. He looks so calm and appears not to notice the commotion all around. For a long and agonizing minute, He continues in silence not uttering a single word in response. Then the Lord begins to scribble in the sand just before His feet.

Suddenly, with only the slightest pause from scribbling in the sand, and without even raising His head, Jesus says,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Immediately, He goes back to writing in the sand.

The crowd seems to be drawn, as though by an invisible force, to what the Lord writes in the boiling crucible of Jerusalem’s sand. Each word He writes comes alive, leaps up from the sand and goes right into the soul of every man holding a stone. And like a sharp two-edged sword, the living word begins to cut between the soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. Like a ray of bright light in a very dark place, the word shines a light into the darkened soul of each man holding a stone, and it exposes the innermost thoughts and desires of the accusers of Mary of Magdala. The word pierces the soul of every man, unmasks every wicked heart, and leaves every sin exposed. Everyone is naked before the word and no one is able to hide from what the Lord scribbles in the sand on this afternoon.

With every word the Lord writes in the sand, the stone in each man’s hand becomes heavier. Like a dead weight, the stone gets so heavy the accusers can't hold on to them any longer. So, one by one, starting with the oldest to the youngest, each man begins to drop the stone of Mary’s condemnation. As the stone drops from his each man's hand, he takes a step back, turns and walks away, fleeing the scene muttering incoherently under his breath. One by one they leave until none of the accusers is left.

As the stones drop all around Mary, each thud causes her to flinch and recoil back in fear. Thinking, perhaps, the end is near she brazes for the pain to begin to sear her wearied body. But the only thing she feels is the loving arms of Jesus lifting her to her feet from the place of blame and shame. The Lord wipes away her tears and says to her, “Child, it is okay now. It is all over now.” “Look around you,” He continues, “Your accusers are all gone, and none remains that condemns you.”

Mary, still in fear, manages to peep through her latticed fingers. Nodding her head gently in agreement, and with tears running down her cheeks, she answers nervously, “Yes Lord, they are all gone! Yes, they are all gone!”

Jesus then says to her, “I know you Mary. Your past deeds are not hidden from me. You have sold your body for a morsel of bread and have defiled my holy temple with the life that you live. My child, you have carried a lot of burden and have been unequally yoked with all sorts of men. But come now, let us settle this once and for all. Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

At this point Jesus seems to be looking directly at me, His piercing eyes boring deep into my soul. He continues to say,

“If you come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Turning back to Mary, Jesus says, “Mary of Magdala, since your accusers have not condemned you, neither do I. Go on your way and from now on sin no more.”

With her clothing hanging about her like scullery rags, Mary clings to the feet of Jesus and she won’t let go, as she continues to sob uncontrollably.

“Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord,” she manages to say through tears as the joy of relief fills her soul.

After a long while of holding on to Jesus' feet she finally lets go. Like a fresh green shoot poking its head out of a hardened soil, Mary gathers herself, rises to her feet ever so gingerly, to return to her life, her brand-new life, a woman whose life is forever changed.

Suddenly, I find myself back on my lazy-boy recliner and the movie is now over. Tears roll down my face as the dam of my heart is shattered by His marvelous love. Overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude and profound magnanimity of His love for me, I pondered aloud, "Why me? Why us? Why do you love us so? We are but vile iniquitous men totally unworthy, and definitely underserving, of your matchless love."

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hide as it were our faces from Him; He is despised, and we esteem Him not.”

Two thousand-some years later, all around me, things remain unchanged. The world, the very same one He came and died for, continues to live in perpetual defiance of His command and authority. And yet His unfailing love for us remains unchanged.

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

---(Lyrics of the song, “Reckless Love” Cory Asbury---

Lord, thank you for your reckless love.


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