Christian Short Stories


THE ADULTERESS
By Olutayo K. Osunsan

Olutayo K. Osunsan lives in Kampala, Uganda (in East Africa). He is the author of two collections of poetry and his works have been published in magazines, anthologies and websites in several parts of the world.

It started out like a joke; that was before she was married; the boys gave her something in return for something. When she got married they gave more for just a little something. She always knew she would get caught one day, but she was never sure when or how and every time the urge arose she tried, but always gave in for one reason or another. Her husband left when he suspected, he could have raised the alarm but he didn’t. She had no clue where he could be and the whole married thing seemed like another lifetime ago. She hoped one day before she got caught she would finally find a decent guy and settle down, maybe one of her ‘male friends’. Many had promised, but not many had made good their promise and she knew she was not the type any man would want as a wife. The ones who wanted to marry her were not the type she wanted, they just couldn’t satisfy her or even attempt to make her happy. She turned them down. She wanted more in a man, but she wasn’t sure what. The neighbors suspected her and the only time the women would talk to her was to tell her to stay away from their husbands or sons. She always moved from neighborhood to neighborhood to avoid the wrath of angry wives, and she lived in most parts of the city.

Jesus was in the temple courts with people gathered around him. He was teaching them. Some where skeptics, others were thirsty for his every word, while some were just there to pass the time and were not sure what to make of his teachings. Then the teachers of the law and the Pharisees came in their righteous robes and impeccable knowledge of the will of God, the God of Israel.

The filthy lady dripping with the sin of adultery was kicked to the ground by the temple guards that escorted the holy men. Her face was swollen and here dark sleek hair was plastered with dust, her shame was written all over her and her fate was obvious even to the people Jesus was teaching. She was a goner!

“On your feet whore!” One of the guards probably yelled and the frail lady dragged herself up from the dusty floor of the temple court. Her clothes were torn and she was breathing short breathes that made the crowd wonder if she was sobbing or just playing a trick to seduce them by the movement of her breasts. The perfume she had on smelled like sweat and dirt. The big toe on her right foot was bleeding. The crowd was silent, their eyes alternating between Jesus, the adulteress and the Pharisees.

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses commands us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?” A stern gray bearded teacher of the law declared out of his wealth of knowledge. His colleagues and the Pharisees nodded and some members in the crowd stole a nod or two. The crowd was building up, but Jesus, the adulteress, the teachers of the law and a few Pharisees and their crowd remained in a neat circle of people, some ready with stones. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law had stones too; they were just waiting for Jesus to give the ‘go ahead’ and possibly throw the first stone to crush her once pretty face. Then the crowd would stone her to death and the evidence would be there in black and white. Half of the city would see Jesus giving the approval to kill the adulteress. He wouldn’t dare let her go free, it would mean he was condoning the act and would lose face, his listeners would find out he was not as decent as he looked. The speculations danced around in the heads of the accusers and they smiled in their hearts, because this time, he was in a fix, but he probably didn’t know it yet they thought to themselves.

Jesus bent down after staring at the lady caught in the act and she knew what he would do, there was no need to beg. Two weeks back a girl younger than her who lived down the road was stoned to death; her parents even took part in it. The law said it and it was. She was as good as dead and she never got to do the noble things like settling down and having children, joining the women’s group and being a respected member of society. The first guy, then second, now she was not sure how many men she had been with, she couldn’t even remember the face of her last client. Her tears landed on the dust in front of Jesus where he was writing something with his clean finger. She could not see what he was writing, the tears were too many, but the crowd was silent.

“Teacher, should I remove this abomination from Israel?” A baritone teacher of the law asked gripping the rock in his hand till his veins were visible. Jesus remained unmoved on the ground writing on the clear brown sand of the temple court.

The adulteress wondered in her mind where had she met this man, his face was familiar, but she wasn’t sure. Was he a client or maybe someone from her old neighborhood? She already caught a glimpse of several of her frequent clients in the crowd; some even had stones and were bold enough to point like they never knew her. She was never surprised, she learned early enough that men would do anything to get what they wanted and after, they would leave you for the dogs if they had to. They made promises they never intended to keep. She knew it from when she was very young. It always occurred to her that one day she would end up like this, but it was the risk she was ready to take, at least she had the best outfits and perfumes while it lasted. There was a certain pride in every man in the neighborhood wanting to be with her. She used to like it, but that same pride had been soiled in the presence of this angry mob.

“Teacher?” Jesus looked up to the caller, an elderly Pharisee, every strand of hair in his beard gray. He stared at the elderly man for a long time like a knowledgeable parent at the flaws of his child.

“Teacher, should we stone her?” The young man next to the Pharisee demanded.

Dusting off the sand from his robe and straightening it, Jesus stood up and looked at the crowd that followed the adulteress and in a loud audible voice to almost everyone in the court he said, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Stooping to the floor he continued writing on the ground.

There were whispers and rumbles in the crowd; it all fell silent when the stone of the elderly Pharisee thumped on the sand. The elderly man pulled up his robe and walked through the parting crowd behind him. He pulled his reluctant son along on his way out. More and more stones dropped and before long the last group of the teachers of the law signaled the temple guards to leave as they walked out of the circle of the people gathered around Jesus. It was very silent.

“Woman, where are they?” Jesus inquired of her and he stood up. “Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said. In her mind she wondered who this man who looked familiar was, what authority did he use? How could they just walk away without a word of objection? Who was this man? What would he want in return?

“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared as he wiped the dirt and blood from her face with the sleeve of his white robe. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

She burst into tears. The last time she did was when her mother had died eleven years ago. She could not understand this man who did not say a single word concerning her grave sin, instead he told her not to sin again. What about the insults? And he even wiped the tears away; she pondered this as she walked out of the gathering. He didn’t even ask for a favor in return? How come? Who was he?

Outside the circle she stared back and Jesus stood there with a warm smile of compassion and she recalled where she had met him. In her dreams, he was the person she hoped for, the one who could give her a new beginning, a fresh start. Jesus nodded. She knew what it meant. She knew that he knew that she was truly sorry for her sins and the many families she had destroyed. She knew she would never sell her body to another man again. She knew that he knew that she wanted to come back and join the crowd that gathered to listen to him speak and she knew that he said she was welcome. Just by the nod, she knew that he is the Son of God. The only one who can make her truly happy.

(© 2009 Olutayo K. Osunsan – written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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