By Akin Ojumu

It is a typical Saturday evening. I’m well along in the “kick back and relax” mode that is typical for me on most weekends. So, here I am on my lazy-boy recliner, enjoying one of the greatest movie hits of all time. It is one of those epic movies that you watch over and over again, and each time you see them it is as though you are watching them for the very first time. This is like the umpteenth time I have watched this particular one, although I have not seen it in a long while. 

As I watch the movie, the levee of my heart breaks, and tears begin to wash over my soul like a torrent. Then, in my mind, I begin to flip through the pages of the chronicle of the legacy of the Lord Jesus – the Holy Scriptures. From Genesis through Lamentations to Revelation, His lamp guides my feet and illuminates my path leading me through the field of His goodness and the meadow of His loving kindness through all generations.

Transported through the pages of Scriptures, suddenly I find myself standing on the street of Jerusalem. Standing but a few yards in the distance is the Temple of the Most High. As I look around taking in the scenery, my eyes come to a sudden stop on a group of people a few distance away to my left. Oh my God! I can see Jesus standing there together with his disciples, just a few feet away. Standing on the same spot in shock and dumbfounded, Jesus looks in my direction. Still in shock I see the Savior 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 ground with scorching heat. The dusts, they rise and fall, as if dancing to the tune of the hot blowing wind. And here I am with the Lord and His disciples, as we sit lounging in the cover of the shadow the Holy Temple provides.

Suddenly, we hear a sudden commotion coming in our direction as a boisterous multitude of angry men approaches from around the street corner. Pushing, 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 left and right, here and there, in petrifying fear. She looks like a cornered animal 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 on the ground. “The Law of Moses says to stone her death. What do you say?” The mob yelled at Jesus.

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 inside herself, deep 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 Son of Man 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.

Then, with only the slightest pause from scribbling in the sand, and without even raising His head, He 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 gawking crowd seems to be pulled, as though by a powerful magnetic force, to what the Lord writes in the boiling crucible of Jerusalem’s sand. Each word He writes seems to come alive, rises slowly up from the sand into the soul of every man holding a stone. Like a sharp two-edged sword, the word written on the ground 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 Master scribbles in the sand on this afternoon.

Everyone holding a stone watches as Jesus writes his own litany of iniquity on the hot sand. Cold sweat of terror runs down their spine as the Lord writes to expose the transgressions of everyone holding a stone of condemnation in his hand.

“Benjamin of Gilead, you are a thief. You stole your neighbor’s goat.”

 “Daniel of Capernaum, you are a murderer. You killed a man in anger last week.”

“Nathaniel of Jaffa, you are a liar. You tricked your brother into selling his farm.”

“Michael of Magdala, you are a cheat, you use false scales to defraud your customers.”

“Josiah of Hebron, you are a pedophile. You raped the little girl who is your wife’s housemaid.”

On and on, the Lord reveals the hidden secrets of each man’s heart. Like a millstone around the neck, the words Jesus writes in the sand pulls the men under the sea of their multiple sins. With every word the Lord writes on the ground, the stone in each man’s hand gets so much heavier. Convicted by their own conscience, the accusers of Mary can no longer hold on to the stones in their hands. One by one, from the oldest to the youngest, each man begins to drop the stone of Mary’s condemnation. As the stone drops from each man's hand, he takes a step back, turns and walks away, fleeing the scene muttering incoherently under his breath. One after another, the men leave until none of the accusers is left behind. 

With each thud the stone makes as it hits the ground, Mary flinches and recoils back in fear. Thinking, perhaps, the end is near, she brazes for the pain that will soon 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 kind of 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 as 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 let 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 souls 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.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never have come to an end
They are new every morning
New every morning
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord
Great is Thy faithfulness
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never have come to an end
They are new every morning
New every morning
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord
Great is Thy faithfulness
They are new every morning
New every morning
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord


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