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You’re not trapped: How one cultural insight delivered a huge ‘aha’!

I met someone recently who thought all that “history-stuff” about the Bible is in the ‘nice-to-know-but-not-necessary’ category.  I beg to disagree and had a recent experience to illustrate why.

The story of the woman who committed adultery (in John 8:1-11) has been a favorite since I first heard it as a little girl.  Who wouldn’t warm to the idea of someone trapped in a life-threatening situation being rescued by this calm, kind figure of Christ Jesus?

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Sandi
Sandi
May 1, 2021 8:49 am

Thank you, Maddie, for such practical “aha” insights. But what touched me even more, if possible, was hearing, “See you in the Scriptures.” See you in Genesis 1. See you at the burning bush. See you at the Red Sea. See you emerging with Elijah from the cave. See you with Naaman as he washes clean in a murky river. See you in Jesus’ “Go and sin no more.” See you walking with Jesus over the waves. See you on the Mount of Transfiguration. See you at the foot of the cross, and at the open tomb. See you on… Read more »

Susan Stroud
Susan Stroud
May 1, 2021 8:51 am

What a wonderful insight! I too have always wanted to know what Jesus wrote when his turning his back on self-righteousness, anger, envy,etc first is the key here.

Eleanor Bigbie
Eleanor Bigbie
May 1, 2021 9:11 am

Amen and Amen! What a wonderful and helpful insight, Madelon. You’ve answered that life-long question, and how appropriate that you revealed that I’ve been asking the wrong question! It’s not what he was writing, but why! Yes, I agree; this “history-stuff” is vital! Thank you.

Julianne Dally
Julianne Dally
May 1, 2021 9:15 am

Thank you so much! I always learn from your insights. We are blessed that you are generous in your sharing. I will never look at that story in the same way again.
Thanks for all you do to make the Scriptures relevant and practical in today’s world.

Barbara Corbett
Barbara Corbett
May 1, 2021 9:23 am

Thanks so much, Madelon! Your insight and research helped me see also that Jesus not only did an “end of discussion” but also showed that he would not get “sucked into” any form of mortal combat. This will help me remember not to react or get defensive when the next mortal question/comment comes my way!

Laura Lawrence
Laura Lawrence
May 1, 2021 9:54 am

Thank you for this great insight and explanation!!! Reminds me of an experience at work decades ago. I was concerned about my “no drinking” stance at the firm’s upcoming New Year’s Eve party as I’d been taunted by a few co-workers beforehand. At the party, when a tipsy co-worker dared me to try the spiked punch, saying it was “really good” I essentially “wrote on the ground”, answering “I know” and walked away. She was so surprised by my (unplanned–and untrue!) response that she sobered right up. Months later she told me she had stopped drinking alcohol herself after that.

Leslie Lamkin
Leslie Lamkin
May 1, 2021 11:04 am

I love your insights! Thought I’d share a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that I just came across: “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

Karenlee
May 1, 2021 11:06 am

Wow, Madelon.! Thanks so much. I’ve always wondered what Jesus was writing in the dirt. Nothing! Perfect.

Shannon
Shannon
May 1, 2021 11:39 am

Thank you, Madelon!

margaret B Powell
margaret B Powell
May 1, 2021 12:20 pm

Thanks. Really enjoyed this. Most explanation I’ve heard has been on possibly Jesus was writing. This is enlightening and helpful to have the background. Indeed another reason Bible scholarship is useful and relevant; cultural-historical-social context is so helpful in getting a fuller meaning from Bible text. Would you consider sharing the source (or sources) from which you got this? Love to have that for future reference.

Laurie Biddle
Laurie Biddle
May 1, 2021 12:23 pm

Thanks so much, Madelon! I remember those Sunday School discussions with the focus on the “what” of his writing. Recently I realized that while in other instances Jesus certainly didn’t mince words about hypocrisy, in this case he let them make their own decision. He must have trusted that their innate honesty would lead them to make the right decision. Your insight expands that for me. Laura’s experience at the party illustrates that too – thanks for sharing!

Serena
Serena
May 1, 2021 2:13 pm

I love that you were compelled to doggedly pursue this issue, knowing that there had to be an important reason why (not what) he actually wrote on the ground, while they were all confronting him, trying to trap him. The fact that you were guided to unearth that ancient Macedonian custom is almost as gobsmackable as the discovery itself; except for the fact that we know that nothing is accidental when motivated and guided by divine Mind. Also, I love the ramifications for us today, to consciously, prayerfully, stand up to the lying material senses trying to entrap us. We… Read more »

Kit Kurtz
Kit Kurtz
May 1, 2021 2:58 pm

Lovely Maddie! So perfect. I love that your research brought you to a similar point as I had gained through inspiration. As I was praying about this story one day the message came that Jesus wasn’t writing anything that we needed to know about but that he was taking himself out of the confrontation and pausing, making space, for God to act. Jesus always turned to his Father, saying,”My Father worketh hereto and I work.” I LOVE this story because we see this obedience of Jesus in action. He let God work.

Miriam Holland
Miriam Holland
May 1, 2021 3:59 pm

I loved your ending message! Bible study is not just a nice thing to do it’s a necessity!” I have found that to be so true in my life. And being part of Bible roads has really helped keep my focus true.

Sher
Sher
May 1, 2021 4:02 pm

See you in the Scriptures – yes multiple meaning words. I had an encounter the other day while my friend and I were closing the RR. A young girl with no shoes on came running across a busy roadway yelling as if she needed help. She ran up to us and I asked if there was something we could do to help her. Upon this she flew into a tirade of unmentionable words and angry accusations. I stopped to listen to the Father as she screamed on in our faces. My friend headed for her car and advised me to… Read more »

Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson
May 1, 2021 4:07 pm

My Sunday school teacher said, “the first time he wrote their names. The second time he wrote their sins against their names” I thought that was probably correct when I was six years old.

I thought that they used the woman who was his espoused and they thought that, that carrot was more than he could push aside. It would have been more than any of them could have resisted. It only makes his spiritual stance that much more a slap in the face of the tempter.

Peter Wilson
Qld
Australia

truth Johnston
truth Johnston
May 1, 2021 4:24 pm

Oh my gosh, you hit the nail on the head. Instead of analyzing why I was feeling frustrated, I realized I was being played by negative conversation and reports. The weight is lifted when one sees that it is not events or people but just suggestions that we can reject out of hand. It is just that simple.

Susan J Bates
Susan J Bates
May 1, 2021 4:50 pm

Thank you so much. I’ve learned this lesson in organizations. When someone criticizes or judges another, it is important to say “we’ve not going there.” Keeping quiet is agreeing but challenging sets up an argument and we can become its victim. Often we don’t know for a fact whether something is true or not. “We’re not going there” stops the discussion and gets us back to our purpose.

Roberta Bartlett
Roberta Bartlett
May 1, 2021 8:12 pm

Thanks so much for another great (and thought-provoking) vlog, Madelon! Your description of what the writing meant, as opposed to what it was, got me to thinking about the phrase we hear occasionally, “Drawing a line in the sand,” meaning, “I’m not going further and neither are you!” I did a bit of searching and there are many different possible sources for that phrase reaching all the way back into antiquity…Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees was among them. I love the way you end your vlogs with, “See you in the Scriptures”! A Sunday School teacher once taught us that… Read more »

Stacy Park
Stacy Park
May 1, 2021 8:39 pm

Some speculate he was writing out the sins of the accusers.

Aleta Spence
Aleta Spence
May 1, 2021 9:19 pm

Madelon, thank you for this rich insight that inspired me to look at George Lamsa’s book about the idioms of the Bible. For the term “Writing on the ground,” he has “Doodling,” which places a focus on the act of writing rather than the content of the writing. And then I looked up the citation from your transcript and discovered that I had already underlined it on page 629 in the volume on John in The New Interpreter’s Bible. What a treasure to unearth again!

Connie Dennett
Connie Dennett
May 2, 2021 5:38 am

Thank you Maddie, I love your discovery on the why and not the what Jesus was writing. In your conclusion relating news media to the accusers I think it is important to distinguish honest and professional news media which informs and is a key component of our democracy from the false and inflaming narratives so rampant on social media. Engaging with those promoting false narratives is ineffectual as it just perpetuates their purpose of creating havoc through fear and anger. Thank you for your continual work to bring the scriptures into our every day thoughts and inspiration to our study!

Last edited 5 months ago by Connie Dennett
Bonnie J Lockhart
Bonnie J Lockhart
May 2, 2021 4:18 pm

Thank you Madelon what a wonderful discovery! I loved hearing about that custom and it makes absolute sense to me. I never really thought about what he wrote or not but loved when he turned their question back on them. Kind of hard for any of us to say we have always acted in the right manner, this made the crowd look at their own behavior. We can and should do better in our own lives and help others on the way. Lots of Love!

Ashwan
Ashwan
May 3, 2021 7:05 am

Thank you for sharing that lovely insight. You made my day!

Linda Conner
Linda Conner
May 3, 2021 8:53 am

Oh my! NOW I understand why you always stress that we need to look at “What does the text say.” I thought that was a “well, sure!” But now I see how we can sometimes insert meaning that is not there, and hide the intent and instruction of the actual text. Instead of thinking that the Scripture was incomplete, and left out an important detail, you searched and found a much more valuable and useful explanation of what was written, instead of guessing, and missing the guidance. And what amazing counsel – that when we are under attack – to… Read more »

Linda
Linda
May 9, 2021 11:33 am

Thank you so much Madelon for sharing this insight. I too had always wondered what he wrote. My husband said he thought Jesus was writing the names of each Pharisee and scribe in the earth, to show how earthly-minded or material-minded and literal they were being in living their interpretations of the scriptures. Jesus had said to his disciples, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven,” to express his delight with their learning to be spiritually minded.

Sancy
Sancy
May 28, 2021 10:58 pm

Oh, Madelon, I loved loved loved this! Thank you!!!

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