Why did Jesus ‘write on the ground’?
John 8.6 Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger as though He did not hear.
What an odd thing to do in the middle of an aggressive challenge from the Scribes and Pharisees. Why did He do such an odd thing?
The answer is in the Old Testament. There is a reference to almost all that Jesus did and spoke in the Old Testament. There has to be because it was the Old Testament that proved His claim to be the Messiah.
The Prophet Jeremiah gives us the answer to His action:
Jeremiah 17.13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You shall be ashamed. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, The Fountain of Living Waters.
On the previous day Jesus had made His startling announcement to the crowd on the Temple Mount:
John 7.37-52 On the last day, that great day of the Feast (of Tabernacles), Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of Living Water."
However, His announcement was not received with universal acclaim because:
Many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, "Truly this is the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." But some said, "Will the Christ come out of Galilee?……So there was a division among the people because of Him.
The Scribes and Pharisees took the view that enough was enough, and that it was time to arrest Jesus:
Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why have you not brought Him?" The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this Man!"
There is no doubt that the ruling group of Scribes and Pharisees had rejected Him, and forsaken the LORD, as the Prophet Jeremiah wrote.
Then the Pharisees answered them, "Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?
Jesus, who was Himself The Fountain of Living Waters had offered the people rivers of Living Water…..but His offer was rejected by the Scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus symbolized their rejection of Him by stooping down and writing on the ground with His finger.
The aggressive response to His confirmation of Himself as Messiah was rooted in their fear and anger that their authority was being challenged. Therefore, Jesus wrote on the ground….as though He did not hear.
His action of ignoring them, as though He did not hear, was in fulfilment of Psalm 66.18 and Isaiah 59.2:
Psalm 66.18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear.
Isaiah 59.2 Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
How did the Scribes and Pharisees react?
Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.
They knew their Scriptures, and would have recognised the reference that Jesus made to Jeremiah 17.13, that those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD.
They would also have recognised why He seemed not to hear, because they were regarding iniquity in their hearts.
They were convicted by their conscience, and so there was only one thing for them to do… to go out one by one.
BUT….there was another option for them. The very next verse, Jeremiah 17.14, is His offer of redemption:
Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise.
How tragic that they rejected every offer that He made....