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Redeemed

I was half naked and clutched tightly to the piece of filthy sheet that I had hastily grabbed to cover my body.  Brutal men were dragging me along the dusty narrow alley-ways of Jerusalem.  My feet burned as they scraped along the bumpy ground and tears stung my eyes.  I gasped in pain as they quickened their pace and held tighter to my arms.  Their thick fingers digging into my soft flesh.  I was scared. I didn’t know where they were taking me.  What do they do with a woman caught in the act? It was very early in the morning so I doubted that anyone was going to be around for me to have to face.  I closed my eyes for a brief second hoping to control my fears but it was in vain.  I opened my eyes again and my mouth dropped open, we were headed to the temple!  What were they going to do to me at the temple? Burn me? Sacrifice me? My heart started pounding wildly, my palms got sweaty and I started shivering.  I was terrified.  I hesitated to continue and tried with all my strength to pull back, but they held me tighter and shook me violently.

“Don’t try anything funny,” they shouted; their eyes firing daggers. I gulped.  I didn’t try anything again and just waited for my fate.  The temple.  That small word seemed to set my skin on fire.  I had never been to the temple, yet today, when I was my most vulnerable and ashamed, I was going to make an appearance.  How ironic! Did life have to be so cruel? As they dragged me I heard a Pharisee say ‘taking her to the Rabbi’ and that phrase almost paralysed me.  I had heard at the market place about this Rabbi by the name of Jesus.  People everywhere talked about him and how he went around healing people.  How he healed the sick and got rid of demon possessed men. They said he was the Messiah; a God amongst men.  I had never seen him face to face, something about him made me uncomfortable so I avoided him like he had leprosy.  I didn’t believe any of this God nonsense. Now, here I was almost nude and on my way to see him.  A pang of nausea washed over me and I swallowed faster and harder as we entered the temple’s courtyard.  I glanced up slightly and saw a large group of people gathered around.  Most, if not all, were men.  In the middle of the dusty courtyard was the Rabbi speaking to the crowd. The men hurried their pace and pulled me harder.  I gasped in pain; I could feel bruises forming under my arms.  They dragged me and threw me at the Rabbi’s feet. I winced as I hit the jagged ground and held tighter to my sheet.  A deep silence descended amongst the crowd and the Rabbi stopped speaking. 

.  Ever so slowly I staggered to my feet and stood up, hanging my head in shame.  I was not going to take my sentence on my knees! The teachers of the law and the Pharisees glared at me and then one of them spoke up.

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The Law of Moses commanded us to stone such a woman.  Now what do you say?”

Stone? I was going to be stoned!  I quivered and tears sprang in my eyes; that was going to be a long, slow, painful death.  I held my breath and waited to hear what the Rabbi Jesus was going to say.  Could a man who healed and apparently did such wonderful things sentence me to death?  Of course he could, I didn’t trust a single man.  I lifted my head slightly and took a peek through my unruly curls, noticing that the men in the crowd were holding different size stones! I bit my bottom lip and frowned in thought.  It seemed that they had come prepared.  An unsettling thought poisoned my mind and the more it spread the more sense it made, until I was completely convinced.  This situation seemed planned. But why? I looked around the crowd and realised that the man I had been caught with was nowhere in sight.  I couldn’t understand why they would plan this treachery.  Did I owe them something?  What was the point? I felt angry inside, how dare they! How dare they excuse the man that had slept with me, they were keeping his high profile life untarnished. 

He should be here facing the same sentence with me!  I wanted to yell and scream and defend myself, but I would never be heard, I was lower than dirt, I was a prostitute.  I glared over at the Rabbi, was he part of the plan as well? I saw him bend down and start writing on the ground with his finger.  I frowned, what an odd man.

“Well? Tell us what’s going to happen to her?” Some one yelled out from within the spectators.

“We need a sentence,” a high ranking Pharisee shouted.  “We need death!”

Everyone else began shouting with him.  Death! Death! Death!  I shivered and started to hyperventilate. Calm down, calm down, I whispered to myself.  This group was blood thirsty.  Finally the Rabbi stood up and said the oddest thing, “if any-one is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” His strong clear voice echoed above the shouts and everyone started looking at each other with blank looks on their faces.  Again he stooped down and kept on writing.  Suddenly, a hard faced Pharisee turned around and squeezed passed the multitude of people and disappeared.  Another man turned crimson red and hurried away throwing the stone he held.  Then another one paled and muttering something under his breath, ran off.

I heard the stone fall somewhere amongst the crowd with a thud.  What was going on?  The Rabbi hadn’t said a word; he had just written on the ground.  I looked down at the writing in the dust but couldn’t read it properly.  Was it in code?  It must be a code that only those in the audience understood.  This was too confusing. Suddenly silence surrounded me and when I looked up saw to my amazement that no-one was around.  Every single person had vanished.  I was left alone, trembling and half dressed with this strange man.  I saw him stand up and look at me.  Those eyes!  They seem to penetrate my inner soul and read my every thought.  I wanted so desperately to look away but something in those eyes held me captive.  There was a tenderness there that I had not seen since I was a little girl.  The way he looked at me reminded me of a parent looking at a baby for the very first time.  Eyes full of love and understanding accepting me just the way I was.  Tears began to flow freely now but I furiously tossed them away.

“Woman, where are they?” He gestured with his hand at the empty courtyard. “Has no one condemned you?”

I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out.  I cleared my throat and tried again.

“No one sir,” I squeaked.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” That was it? I was free?  I looked at that man and drowned in his eyes, he smiled and nodded, gesturing with his hands that I was free to go.  My heart danced in celebration and for the very first time in all my years, I felt internal peace.  How could I sin again when those eyes were engraved in my very soul? This man healed the sick, this man made the blind see, this man took the demons out of men and this man forgave me. He was truly the Messiah; a God amongst men.   

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