What did Jesus write in the sand? Why did he write on the ground? Is there a hidden meaning behind Jesus writing in the dust? These are many of the questions people have been wondering for centuries.
Isn’t it funny how we get obsessed with things that are left unexplained and take our eyes away from what is clearly spoken?
What did Jesus write in the sand? The simple fact of the matter is no one knows. The Bible doesn’t say what he wrote in the sand/dust/ground it just clearly states that he did write on the ground.
I now have this as a video presentation you can watch or if you prefer to read just scroll down past it.
Any other answer is pure conjecture and we can all have fun with what could, should, might, and perhaps but the plain fact is we do not know.
However… there is a lot of fascinating gems we can glean from this passage of scripture and we can certainly get some idea as to why Jesus wrote on the ground.
As I was researching this topic I found it intersected with something I didn’t notice before and that is the finger of God and I’ll share the exciting things I found about that topic later in this article.
But first lets’ dive in and take a look at Jesus writing on the ground…
First Of All The Bible Doesn’t Actually Say Jesus Wrote In The Sand
The KJV doesn’t mention the word sand it says he wrote on the ground and in fact, almost every Bible version says Jesus wrote on the ground with some saying Jesus wrote in the dust and none of them say sand.
In fact, the Greek word translated as the ground in this verse has never in any place of the Bible been translated as sand. It has been translated elsewhere in the Bible as earth, land, or ground.
So I don’t know why people ask about what did Jesus write in the sand? I’m not sure where they get sand from? It’s not significant to this story however it is still interesting how easy it is for us to assume things.
What Did Jesus Write On The Ground Bible Verse
The story of Jesus writing on the ground can be found in John 8:3-11 and involves those dastardly Scribes and Pharisees trying to set Jesus up in an elaborate trap. Let’s itemize what was involved in their scheme…
- They brought unto him a woman taken in adultery
- And when they had set her in the midst
- They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
- Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned
- But what sayest thou?
- This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.
They didn’t care about justice and they certainly didn’t care about this woman. It didn’t matter to them if she got stoned to death. She was just collateral damage in their scheme to get something on Jesus.
To the natural mind, it seemed the Scribes and Pharisees have the perfect plan of entrapment in place. Jesus who was known for his compassion with many scriptures saying how he was moved with compassion, he wept, he forgave people’s sin, he healed people and he did it all while obeying the law faultlessly.
But now the religious leaders have set the perfect trap. If he succumbs to their pressure and stones this woman it would be totally contrary to who he is and they could easily discredit him going forward or if refused to stone her he would be openly challenging the religious leaders and by implication disobeying God’s law.
They left him with only two choices and either choice would be a no-win situation for Jesus. They must have been feeling so smug about themselves but then Jesus does something they could never foresee…
But Jesus Stooped Down, And With His Finger Wrote On The Ground, As Though He Heard Them Not.
While he was writing the Bible says… So when they continued asking him! You could imagine the relentless badgering and really you only have to visit Twitter in our modern times and see how the majority of people respond and mankind is still the same.
Now here comes the curve ball the Scribes and Pharisees didn’t see coming. He lifted up himself and said unto them…
“He That Is Without Sin Among You, Let Him First Cast A Stone At Her.”
…And again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Yes, he wrote on the ground twice! More questions… Did he write something different both times? Did he just continue writing where he left off the first time? You see what he wrote doesn’t matter – it is what it represents that matters and we will unravel more of that as we go on.
This is such an enormous statement with such incredible meaning that it is still a very popular phrase even in our secular society today – he without sin cast the first stone!
Isn’t this story amazing? Despite the Scribes and Pharisees’ best efforts of entrapment, they fell into their own snare.
- And they which heard it
- Being convicted by their own conscience
- Went out one by one
- Beginning at the eldest
- Even unto the last
- And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Plus don’t forget Jesus was without sin. So if anyone could have been in a position to stone her he was, yet he did not.
If anyone wants to accuse me of something please drag me before Jesus and let him judge me rather then men! None of us are without sin so none of us can through stones or condemn others. (Rom 3:10)
Of course, popular opinion is that all of these people were not without sin in this very matter. They dragged this woman before Jesus. In the process, they did not bring the man found sleeping with her and they bypassed all of the legal requirements of a fair trial.
So, they were enraged that she had broken the law, while at the same time ignoring the fact they were breaking the law themselves.
UPDATE: I was pondering this and realized that this too is presumptuous. We assume that they dragged her to Jesus as soon as she was caught however the Bible doesn’t really say that. Who is to say she wasn’t caught the night before or earlier and they did go to trial and who is to say the man involved also wasn’t take to trial?
He could have been led for execution earlier or later. It was on their way to stone her that they dragged her before Jesus. So it is possible all of the legal requirements were met earlier. So… we can sometimes make up a lot of doctrine from what we presumed happened.
Why Did Jesus Write On the Ground
Okay… now that we have laid the groundwork lets get into the good stuff. We might not be able to work all the ins and outs of the topic but I’m sure it will get you thinking…
O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. (Jer 17:13)
Here we see an example writing on the ground. All those that depart from me shall be written in the earth (ground) because they have forsaken the LORD.
I believe this is more than coincidental because this verse also refers to the LORD as the fountain of living waters and the very last thing that happened the day before he wrote on the ground… Jesus declared he was the fountain of living waters.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38)
The feast spoken of here is the feast of tabernacles (Lev 23:42-43).
So get this…
On the last day of the very feast dedicated to the remembrance of Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness and God’s miraculous provision, especially of the Manna from heaven and water from the rock…
Jesus Declares He Is The Fountain Of Living Waters
We also know Jesus is the rock. The rock that followed them was Christ. (1 Cor 10:4). The rock was the source of water – Jesus is the rock and real source of water.
But wait there’s more…
In John 6:31-35 – In a discussion about the manna from heaven, Jesus says… “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
All this occurred in 3 consecutive chapters!
Let’s not let this pass us by. Let’s itemize it to fully take this in…
- It is the time of the feast in remembrance of God’s great provision for Israel in their journey through the wilderness. Manna from heaven and water from the rock were the main forms of provision.
- Jesus declares he is the real bread of heaven.
- Jesus declares he is the fountain of living waters.
- Jesus writes on the ground
Oh… I think the religious leaders would have known exactly what Jesus was doing by writing on the ground.
But wait there’s more from that verse in Jeremiah…
For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. (Acts 28:20)
The verse in Jeremiah 17:13 starts off with… O Lord the hope of Israel!
And here’s Paul in chains for preaching Jesus Christ and he knowing the Old Testament better than most equated Jesus as being the hope of Israel.
So we have Jesus Christ fulfilling every word of Jer 17:13… He is the hope of Israel and the source of living water where you will never thirst again writing on the ground when people were railing at him and rejecting him.
I love how the scriptures all dovetail together. So let’s explore a little further now and look at…
The Finger Of God
I’m sure you know what it’s like when you have read scriptures many, many times and then one day when you read again something just leaps out at you and that’s what happened to me with the following statement.
…and with his finger wrote on the ground
Of course, Jesus is God in the flesh so this is like the finger of God writing here. Does that remind you of anything? Well just in case let’s have a look at the finger of God in the Bible.
And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18)
This is the most memorable event we are familiar with involving the finger of God and of interest to us is that God wrote on 2 tablets of stone.
We have just read where Jesus wrote on the ground 2 times. Perhaps just coincidence however it does fit in with the law was brought to us by Moses while Grace and Truth were brought to us by Jesus Christ.
The first demanded death (typified by demanding the death of the adulterous woman) the second gave life (typified by Jesus saying neither do I condemn thee).
But the verse I’m really excited about is this one where Jesus said in Luke 11:20…
“But If I With The Finger Of God Cast Out Devils, No Doubt The Kingdom Of God Is Come Upon You!”
In the same encounter recorded in the book Matthew the Bible says it this way…
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (Mat 12:28)
The finger of God has long been associated with the power of God as demonstrated in Exodus 8:19 when the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God.
And so is the Holy Ghost associated with the power of God. The finger of God and the Spirit Of God was considered to be the same thing by the disciples.
We were signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit – the finger of God.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. (Eph 1:13)
God’s finger has written his laws in our hearts.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. (Heb 8:10)
And it doesn’t get any clearer than the below scriptures…
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)
Epistle means a letter. Before texting, we used to write letters and they were delivered by the mailman. Even these days most people are still familiar with the term ‘letter of recommendation’.
We are living letters and we have not been written on by ink but by the Spirit of the living God – therefore the finger of God. Just as God wrote on the tablets of stone, he has now written on the fleshly table of our heart.
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