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The DEEP

What's Wrong with Stoning?

It's not the plan.

John 18:28–32

Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”

Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”

Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

In the US, only the government can punish people for crimes. No matter what someone has done, practicing vigilante justice will get you in big trouble. Apparently, the Roman system was similar. This appears to be what the Jews are referring to when they say, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.

But they flout that law plenty, usually by stoning, and the Romans let it slide.

Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” — John 10:31–32

So, some other agenda must be at work here. They don’t just want Jesus dead; they want Him crucified.

And so does Jesus! This is confirmed by verse 32 (which, by the way, is a purpose clause).

[for the purpose] that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.


But why do they want Him crucified? What’s wrong with stoning? Are they just fans of torture?

They’re going to jump through all kinds of hoops to get the Romans to do their dirty work for them. Then, having ceded control of the details, they’ll end up furious with the writing Pilate puts on the cross.

They could have easily whacked Jesus right after Peter initiated swordplay. Instead, they patiently go the due-process route. How does that make sense?

It doesn’t. The actions of Jesus’s accusers won’t make any sense all the way through this process. It cannot be explained as simple human interaction. Something else is going on.

That’s the point of verse 32. The plan all along has been for Jesus to be the substitutionary sacrifice for sin.

Stoning just won’t do for that.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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