≡ Menu

Jesus, the Writer

In the Bible, there is only one account of Christ actually writing something. This seems to surprise a lot of people. After all, Scripture is about Him. So it often comes as a shock to learn that Jesus did not write parts of the jesus_writingBible. In fact, He barely wrote anything.

In the Gospel of John chapter 8, the scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. “The Law commands she be stoned,” they demanded. “What do you say we should we do?”

This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.(John 8:6-8 NKJV)

This is the only biblical account of Jesus ever writing anything. But it wasn’t penned on parchment or chiseled in granite. It was scratched in dirt. In the story, He almost appears to doodle, scrawling something in the sand “as though He did not hear.”  Like I child, whimsically preoccupied, Jesus tinkers in the dirt while a woman lays accused. Exactly what He writes is not specified — a word, a phrase, or maybe a symbol. Either way, we can assume that His script was quickly removed by wind, rain or traffic.

Nowhere else in the Bible do we ever see Jesus writing anything. But why? Surely a signature as important as His needed saving, framing, poster-izing. We’re talking the actual inscription of God here! I mean, that’s gotta be worth more than, say, the original Gettysburg Address or J.K. Rowling’s autograph. This is the Finger of the Almighty carving words in Earth!

But those words were never published.

In today’s Twitter-ized economy, one’s words can be broadcast to thousands with a push of a button. But Jesus did not Share His writing. Instead, Christ entrusted His message to the type of life He lived, not the amount of words He wrote. In fact, He relegated the record of His life and His words completely to others. His was a true biography — there was no auto about it.

No wonder Jesus wrote in the dirt — His legacy was etched elsewhere.

How unlike us. As writers, we pine for publication. Forget writing in the dirt, we want parchment with felt, linen, weave, laid, or vellum cover stock options. Why scribble in the sand when we can go straight to Publish? Yet no amount of burned backups or “copies in print” can ensure my breakout novel will withstand the wind, rain and traffic of time.

The Son of God did not require a MacBook or a whiteboard. Just dirt. Why? Because it was the disciples’ hearts He really wrote on.

Maybe what I write is not as important as on whom I write it. Saving it to Disk is not nearly as abiding as Taking it to Heart. In the end, perhaps our legacy is not about how many best-sellers we write, but how many hearts we write them on…

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on Reddit
{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Nicole September 7, 2009, 6:42 PM

    Amen. Amen.

  • Jacob September 8, 2009, 4:22 PM


    I have thought about the fact that Jesus did not write a lot. I like your conclusion of why.

  • Mark September 8, 2009, 4:35 PM

    Absolutely, my favorite post (and I really like a lot of them). Thanks!

  • Mike Duran September 8, 2009, 11:47 PM

    Thanks for the kind comments, you guys!

  • James March 17, 2010, 2:37 PM

    First of all, I have just this morning encountered the passage (John 8:6-8) referring to Christ as "author"…My interest here is precisely that this seems to be the only reference to Jesus-as-author in biblical texts. I am more than intellectually interested in what He Himself might have actually wrote at that particular point. I have also been considering the manner (writing in sand), and the connection between His "act" or mere "ability" to write the messages he was orally conveying and the full justification of His eventual crucifixion. Was the oral or the written message the more "criminal?" As a side query, Why did Christ not take on authorship of the / a Bible himself…perhaps speech was the more enticing and efficient vehicle for the message? Thanks and God Bless, J

  • Mary April 7, 2010, 3:33 PM

    Beautiful – thank you! What a lovely column to run across.

  • Marcus Walker October 24, 2010, 6:58 PM

    The answer is in a prophecy from Jeremiah

    JEREMIAH 17:13
    O Lord, the hope is Is’-ra-el, 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.

    May the God(YHWH) of Isreal Bless you all.

Leave a Comment