doodling in the dirt | John 8.6
This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. John 8.6 | ESV
And in case you hadn’t figured it out, this whole thing was a set up; they were just looking for ammunition to nail Jesus to the wall. But Jesus didn’t bite or budge. He just stooped down and started doodling in the dirt with his finger. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
So what do you do when your day is interrupted by a religious ruckus?
How do you handle that snarky, cutting religious or irreligious comment, that jarring, jagged edged post that instead of being incisive is divisive and derisive?
Most of us draw mental swords, at the very least, those swords often spilling out verbally onto printed or electronic page. Post and counter post in a accumulating comment thread that manufactures a verbal and emotional bloodbath resembling Helkath-hazzurim more than the “iron sharpening iron” that it’s cracked up to be.
“Field of Sword-Edges.”
You can find its story on the bloody pages of 2 Samuel 2.
Twelve of David’s young men, twelve of the son of Saul, facing off at a pond.
“Let the young men arise and compete for us.”
And arise they did.
Young men of all ages are always ready for a brawl – especially a religious brawl. Twenty-four rise, twenty-four fall by the now bloody pool.
Nobody survives this game, there are no winners.
So how does Jesus rise to the challenge of this religious ruckus, how does he respond to these exposed religious blades?
He doesn’t rise up and face off with them, flexing theological muscles, nostrils flaring, fists tightening.
And he doodles in the dirt.
It’s the one time Scripture says that Jesus wrote.
But it was no Facebook or blog post.
Only an earthy post in the dirt.
And we have no idea what he wrote.
How do you handle a religious ruckus?
How do you respond to that religious or irreligious gauntlet that slaps you in the face?
Turn the other cheek. Or doodle in the dirt. Same thing.
Paul captures it well – his counsel could be the subtitle for this scene, with Eugene Peterson inputting the text: “Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.” (You’ll find this in 2 Timothy 2:22-26.)
As we pursue true religion, may we all become accomplished doodlers.
How free are you to walk away from a fight, stooping to make a bigger point? How often do you have to have the last word? Why?
Abba, give me the grace of your Son to doodle in the dirt when I want to knee-jerk into a verbal or literal fray over fighting words. Show me how to be that gentle listener, that teacher who keeps cool. Show me how to stoop down instead of flaring up; remind me today that often the most effective way of standing up for others is through bowing down. Through Christ.