Truth, Understanding, Insight


2nd May 2013, hej


3) Stones to kill

The following shows again that he had a talent for gaining enemies by his forthright speech,

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long do you make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, make thyself God.
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphem; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, (John 10:22-39)

The leaders who hung about the temple might be hot-headed, but the stones were meant to kill and are listed as a weapon of both murder and justice in the law of Moses. Just why it was they thought they could take up stones, and how the stones were so readily about on the porch indicate much about the situation which was developing, and which was to become worse, in Jerusalem. Jews might take the lives of Jews over many disputes in a bloody civil war. When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans it had first been divided and destroyed by bloodshed internally. Analysis of Josephus shows,

In the first century, there were serious economic problems in Judaea. The rabbinical sources indicate that the Temple authorities were widely regarded as corrupt. In this conflict between the rich elite and the poor peasants, the Romans sided with the elite, as they always did.

Chief priests and scribes

Though hatred was common and diffuse, the key to the power of the diffuse opposition to Jesus (Iesous Yesou, Yeshua), and why even people such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were secret disciples, was who was backing the campaign to kill him.

The chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. (Luke 22:2)

It turns out therefore that, there was general popular support of the common people but many key players had fallen in line behind the elite religious power of the chief priests and scribes who had already problems with wielding their power over the common people (peasants). There was first hand information from the chief priest camp, as John had access there (John 18:16). John reports,

Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. (John 11:47-50)

The politics of this are perhaps a bit muddied, but if they don't like him it is then a justification of that dislike of his power to point out a political consequence. The point to note is that the people speaking here are the elite leaders of the Jewish people, and they found a very powerful political reason to justify their dislike.