The Rock

Someone said, “Oh, you have been to The Rock!” (Alcatraz Prison at Alcatraz Island). He said it in a mocking tone. It was a pretty loaded statement. It was just like saying, “Oh come on, you have not been to nicer places. You only went to The Rock.” Instead of getting irritated, I replied, “Yes, I have been there twice. I like it there.” He smirked.

Some people went to Jesus and they were holding rocks as they were ready to throw those rocks to the sinful woman. They alleged that they “caught her in the act of adultery.” But the obvious question would be, “So where is the man?” Oh well, perhaps they only wanted to castigate the woman and perhaps they let the man go free.

But when they went to Jesus their scheming intention was not to get his affirmation or approval to stone the woman. Rather, it was to trap Jesus into committing what otherwise they would consider as wrongful according to the law of Moses or wrongful according to Roman laws. It was wrong to commit adultery so in the law of Moses, that woman should be stoned to death. It was wrong under the Roman Laws for the Israelites to impose punishment so Jesus would be on the wrong.

All eyes were on the woman. All rocks and stones were ready to be hurled. If that was a scene in an actual film shot, the next words that we could have heard was, “Lights, Camera, Action!”

So the unruly crowd pressed on Jesus for his answer. But Jesus looked away from the woman and the crowd. Jesus chose to bend to the ground and started writing on the dirt with his fingers. What could he have written? No one bothered to read. They were not there to listen or to learn from Jesus. They were there to trap Jesus. Perhaps if they were really there for the right reasons, they could have read what Jesus wrote. Perhaps Jesus wrote a golden treasure about justice and mercy. But no! They had no time for Jesus’ teachings or writings or actions. They were there to condemn Jesus by putting him to the test and setting this trap.

Poor them! They really did not know how Jesus responds. Jesus stood up and said, “The one without sin should cast the first stone.” What judgment to hear from someone who has the authority to forgive sins. And Jesus went back to his writing on the ground. Again I wonder what could he have written. I am more interested on what Jesus wrote.

One by one they left until only the woman remained. Jesus looked up and this time Jesus was talking to the woman. “No one has condemned you, nor do I!” Such a powerful statement from the ultimate judge of all. Jesus took away the condemnation and further said, “…and sin no more!” The woman was not condemned. She was told to repent and reform. Jesus’s ways are not our ways. He freely and lovingly gives mercy and love. That is Jesus’ Divine justice.

The rocks freely fell from their hands. They were shameful perhaps. They felt their own guilt. They were humiliated by their own actions. They realized that the rocks that they were holding were created by God not to oppress people, not to harm people, not to put people to death. The rocks created by God are meant to edify, to strengthen, to build, to fortify, to be the foundation.

I come from an island that is full of volcanic rocks. These rocks have been hurled from the eruptions of the volcanoes in the island. These rocks came from the core of the earth for a purpose, for a reason. God meant them to strengthen the island so that the sands on the shores and the soil on the ground do not get washed away by the waters. Thus, the island is fortified by these rocks.

Everything is meant to be and everything has a reason to be. May I be like a rock that can serve its purpose intentionally and willingly.

And yes, if I have another chance, I will still visit “The Rock (Alcatraz Island)” It is something worth more than just its aesthetic value. It speaks of people who were judged and condemned. Repentance and reformation must have been abundant there. Jesus could have visited that place more than once, more than twice, or Jesus must have been there all the time, too.