What follows is an excerpt from the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. In it, you will see a brief glimpse of the power of Jesus’ forgiveness, from the perspective of a woman who, after years of judgment and scorn, needed forgiveness more than she could have imagined. We call him Jesus; they called him Yeshua.
– Lydia –
When we reached the square, vomit tried to push its way up my throat. I nearly collapsed as the men flung me against the mud-brick wall next to the synagogue. I hit hard and tried to stifle a yelp of pain. The mob spread out in front of me, some bouncing stones in their hands. They were waiting for something. Who would be the first to throw? How much would it hurt? How would it feel to die? How much longer did I have to live?
A ray of sunlight shot out through a gap in the clouds as a man strolled casually across the square. At first, I thought he was going to join the stone-throwers. But he walked past, never giving them notice, and stood against the synagogue wall next to me. Then I realized—it was the prophet who had brought Zach to life.
“Teacher,” the lead Pharisee said in obvious mock respect, “This woman was caught in the act of adultery.” Right, but that was two years ago. “The law commands us to stone such women. What do you say?”
So, this was what the mob had been waiting for. They weren’t out to punish me. But the prophet just stood there, looking at the mob, his gaze roving from one to the next. Each man shuffled his feet and looked away whenever the prophets’ eyes landed on him. The prophet then knelt down and began writing something in the dirt with his finger. The sun burst out full from behind the clouds.
“The law commands us to stone this woman!” the Pharisee shouted. “Now what do you say!?”
Still, the man didn’t respond. Didn’t even seem interested.
As I stared at his finger tracing in the dust, sweat dripped down my forehead and into my eyes. I whispered, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I really didn’t think God was listening, but … I was desperate.
Then, the prophet rose to his feet, again glanced from man to man, and declared, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” He bent back down to the ground and continued writing.
If anyone were without sin? Well, that would be the Pharisees. They obsessed over God’s law and the hundreds of manmade rules. They wouldn’t dare sin.
Then, I heard it. A dull thud. I looked up to see a man from our village, his stone lying on the ground. Several heartbeats later, another thud, followed by another. Soon, the only men holding stones were the Pharisees. As I’d feared.
But they weren’t looking at me. They were staring at the man still writing in the dirt. Their faces blazed with an intense hatred, the kind of hatred that kills. But whether he realized his own danger or not, the prophet seemed focused only on his writing.
I don’t know what those zealots were waiting for. They weren’t going to back away now. What chance did—
I jumped at the sound. Slowly, I lifted my eyes from the writing to discover the youngest looking Pharisee had dropped his stone. His eyes were on the patch of ground before his feet. Time slowed. And then, another stone fell to the ground.
After what felt like several minutes, the last stone still remained tight in the hand of the head Pharisee, the one who’d done all the talking. My eyes locked on that hand, its veins bulging, its knuckles white. And then, as if in slow motion, the fingers relaxed and opened. The stone rolled free and slowly tumbled through the air, raising a tiny cloud of dust as it hit the ground. The early morning sun glistened off the dust as it drifted back down.
The mob silently broke up, with the village hypocrites’ guild leaving first. The Pharisees hesitated. Then, they too shuffled out of the square.
When the last one rounded the corner of the synagogue and disappeared, the man at my feet lifted his head, looked up to me, and smiled. I felt that smile, so warm and full of kindness.
He glanced around the square and brushed his hands together as he stood. “Woman, where are they? Is there no one who condemns you?”
“No one.” My voice trembled.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I collapsed to the ground as tears poured down my dusty face. “Sir!” It came out as a hoarse whisper. “Why?”
Kneeling down, he cupped my chin in his hand and lifted until my eyes met his. “Please, call me Yeshua.”
He took my hands, lifted me to my feet, and folded his arms around me in a warm hug. I nearly collapsed again, but he held me steady. And then I realized something. He touched me! This man, more righteous than all those religious leaders, more godly than all the rest, had touched me. An adulterous woman like me and he didn’t seem afraid my sins might make him unclean.
“Sir. I mean, Yeshua,” my voice still trembling, “why do you forgive me? Why are you so kind?”
“Because of love. I live by a higher level of love, God’s love. By his love, God keeps no record of wrongs. Neither do I.”
Would you like to read more? Click on the image below to go to the Amazon book page. Then look inside (with Amazon “Look inside” feature), and see what you think. And if you’d like, the book is currently priced as low as Amazon will allow, but only until this Sunday, as the price will increase starting Monday, April 27.