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Three reasons why Jesus was crucified and not stoned

Posted Jul 14, 2011 by Jeff Wilson in Everlasting Gospel
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The following article was taken from a larger more in depth study entitled "Sacrifice of Epic Proportion."  Sacrifice of Epic Proportion is a completely revised version of an earlier study entitled "Power Laid Down."  I hope to have the newer version up in pdf format soon. For now here is a sample of it.

Three reasons why Jesus was crucified and not stoned.

Although Jesus was perfectly innocent of all false charges the Jews imposed upon Him (Luke 23:14; John 8:46; 18:38; 19:6), more than once they accused Him of blasphemy and plotted His death. (Matt 26:65; Mark 14:64; John 10:33-36)

Stoning to death was the stipulated Jewish method for the punishment of blasphemy.

“And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death” (Lev 24:16)

In all hypocrisy the merciless Jews claimed to revere the Law of Moses (Matt 19:7; 22:24; 23:2; Mark 10:3,4; John 5:45; John 1:17) but it always seemed to be the judicial side they focused on.  Yet when it came to blasphemy - of which they charged the Son of God - we might wonder why they neglected to carry out Moses’ instructions for its punishment. They had several opportunities to stone Jesus while He was “daily with [them] in the temple” yet they didn’t. (See John 8:59; 10:31). On one occasion they attempted to cast Him headfirst off a mountain cliff yet they didn’t (Luke 4:29). Did God send protective angels to prevent His murder? One may wonder whether there were yet other non-recorded instances when murderous attempts failed against the Son of God. (See Luke 22:53). Did the Father know something we don’t? In saying “mine hour/time is not yet come” (John 2:4; 7: 6, 8, 30), did Jesus recognize something many of us don’t? That nothing less than the second death - a death as our sin-bearing substitute – under the “hour of the power of darkness” would suffice if mankind was ever to be saved? (Luke 22:53)   Naturally questions like these and the following arise: why didn’t the angry Jews end the Son of God’s life by stoning when they were capable, eager, impatient, and so willing to do so? Was there a reason why God purposely delayed in sending His Son for 4,000 years until “in the fullness of time” when the Jewish nation was under Roman rule?

Because of the wicked departure of the Jews from God, he had allowed them to come under the power of a heathen nation. Only a certain limited power was granted the Jews; even the Sanhedrim was not allowed to pronounce final judgment upon any important case which involved the infliction of capital punishment. A people controlled, as were the Jews, by bigotry and superstition, are most cruel and unrelenting. The wisdom of God was displayed in sending his Son to the world at a time when the Roman power held sway. Had the Jewish economy possessed full authority, we should not now have a history of the life and ministry of Christ among men. The jealous priests and rulers would have quickly made away with so formidable a rival. He would have been stoned to death on the false accusation of breaking the law of God. The Jews put no one to death by crucifixion; that was a Roman method of punishment; there would therefore have been no cross upon Calvary. Prophecy would not then have been fulfilled; for Christ was to be lifted up in the most public manner on the cross, as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness.  {3SP 180.2}

Aside from the cruelty and excruciating pain of crucifixion, there must was another reason why the Jewish leaders insisted He be crucified. (Matt 27:22,23; Mark 15:13,14; Luke 23:21) Yet at the same time there was no recognition that they were fulfilling prophecy. It seems had they known exactly what they were doing they would have stopped dead in their tracks. They did not comprehend or receive the Spirit of Wisdom (Christ), Knowledge and Understanding (“the mind of Christ”) as Paul testifies,

“….we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” 1 Cor 2:7, 8.

Well they did crucify the Lord of glory. Unbeknown to them they were placing Jesus on center stage for “the hour of darkness” which was the backdrop, the dark evil contrast to the glorious light that was to shine from the cross. In the open universal mountain theatre of Calvary, He would, of His own volition, lay down His life. Interestingly, the Roman power lit a candle that was never to go out. Carrying out the sentence imposed by false persistent charges of the Jews, they were to illuminate the world with Calvary’s cross.

“The Roman power was the instrument in God's hand to prevent the Light of the world from going out in darkness. The cross was lifted, according to the plan of God, in the sight of all nations, tongues, and people, calling their attention to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.”  {3SP 181.1}

We need to remember as alluded to earlier, Jesus did NOT die from crucifixion – (a physical death) although He could have. He died from a cross (the physical result of a broken heart). The crucifixion did not break Christ’s heart but the cross on man’s behalf (separation from His Father) did. The crucifixion has always been what wicked man did to man. The cross, however, was what God did for man. At Calvary it was not a life that was taken; it was a life that was given! (See John 10:11) Remember: “bodily pain was but a small part of the agony of God’s dear Son” (2 T p. 213). He was taking on the sins of the world, and as they poured into His soul, He prayed three times recoiling from the sin that would eventually separate Him from His Father, but yet He was willing to do His will…Angels watched with astonishment,

As sins poured in, His life poured out,

As guilt flooded feeling, heaven’s grace flowed out

In triumph and glory and in destroying sin,

He ransomed a world, otherwise lost to Him!!!

He “poured out His soul unto death” (Isa 53:12) and died of a broken heart as a result from this separation resulting from taking upon the world’s guilt. Concerning His life, Jesus said in John 10:17,18 “no man taketh it from me, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it (receive it) again……….”

We still haven’t fully answered the question why the Jewish leaders chose crucifixion above any other form of murder.

When we understand the meaning behind the crucifixion then we can understand the reason why the infamous Jews intended, and in fact insisted, in having Him crucified instead of stoned. (Matt 27:22)

What does the Scripture say regarding crucifixion?

“His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) …… ” (Lev 21:23)

The apostle Paul did not gloss over the fact Christ subjected Himself to this ignominious kind of curse.

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal 3:13)

1) Here is the first reason for the crucifixion: The Jews wanted Jesus crucified - they wanted Him cursed – cursed of God! In the mind of the Jews, to be cursed of God was to be shamefully despised and doomed, doomed to eternal separation from life under God’s displeasure and wrath! (The Jews may have been right in their belief that the curse involves separation from God but they were definitely not right in their comprehension of God’s character. To them He was all justice devoid of mercy. (See John 8:2-11). Yet at the cross we see mercy blended with justice. (Psm 85:10; 89:14; 52:8; 59:17; 86:15; 136:2; Micah 6:8; James 2:13) God is abundant in mercy, He delights in it, and it will “endure forever” (Micah 7:18; 1 Pet 1:3)

Crucified between two thieves, on the cross the Son of God died hours before these men. When a Roman soldier came to break the legs of all three men to hasten their death, when he came to Jesus he found Him already dead. (John 19:32,34). Keep in mind Jesus was no weakling. He was a strong man. He was temperate in His habits, free from disease and abstained from the indulgence of appetite. He worked in a carpenter shop in the days when there were no power tools. Everything had to be vigorously cut by hand so we could assume He was physically strong and fit. A moment before Christ’s death, apart from the obvious fact of immobility, it seems He possessed a reasonable level of vitality, physical vigor and strength. His head was was not drooping down and swooning in unconscious state as we often see in works of art: - he held his head was up until the very last moment. It was not until then that He bowed His head and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30). His voice was not some indefinable mutter as would certainly be the case of a person on the brink of PHYSICAL expiration followed by death.  Just before death His voice rang out in clear trumpet-like tones resounding throughout the land. Scripture records: And when Jesus “cried with a LOUD VOICE, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46).

Don’t misunderstand. This is not to say Jesus was some kind of superhuman incapable of dying. He could have died of old age, He could have been suddenly murdered, He could have died from thirst or hunger and other physical causes had he been placed in these circumstances unprotected or not sustained. He most certainly would have died had heavenly angels not prevented murderous schemes against Him. But the point here is what would be gained if Christ’s life had of just slipped away quietly unnoticed? For instance, in condescending to take upon our fallen flesh and blood nature, was not Jesus subject to the natural laws of humanity and heredity (Gal 4:4)? What about the laws necessary for sustenance and life? What about the inflexible global law of gravity? For example if Jesus attempted to extend His desert fast from 40 days to 50 days, or even 60 or 100 days do you think He could have possibly survived without warmth and food? After the devil took Him up to the giddy height of the pinnacle of the temple in the holy city, what if at the suggestion and temptation of Satan, Jesus had presumptively cast Himself down? Could we expect that He would survive? (Matt 4:5). And what would be gained? Absolutely NOTHING, but, EVERYTHING would be lost!  Yet in the “wisdom” and “power” of the cross (1 Cor 1:18,24) the focus of both evil and righteousness was clearly sharpened and thus brought to vivid contrast. The difference between the character of Satan and the character of Christ like white against blackest black was clearly seen – by ALL. Satan’s disguise was torn away; In describing this event Luke prophesied that Satan “the strong man” who claimed this world and subjects as his “palace”. But when the Messiah would come who is described as “the stronger than he” He would overcome him and “taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted”. (Luke 11:21,22). In other words, at the cross Satan’s armour – his disguise made of lies, misrepresentations, and insinuations about the Father and His Son was stripped away openly exposing him. He was seen as a murderer. At the cross -

“[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them”. (Col 2:15) Amplified Version

2) To contrast evil against good

Coming back now to the reasons for the crucifixion it seems deep conviction and conversion took place at the cross as people saw their own sin in contrast to a “revelation” of God’s love and unwarranted pain. (Luke 23:43; Mark 15:39)

“All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God.” (ED p. 363)

Yet death was not the end. What appeared to be total defeat was in reality a monumental victory. When Christ cried out “it is finished” the death knell was rung for Satan.

3. Antitypical fulfillment of prophecy

There is another reason why God’s Son died as a sacrifice on the cross. And that is to become the antitypical fulfillment of prophecy as foreshadowed in the numerous sacrificial offerings in the Old Testament sanctuary service. (See Acts 17:3; 3:18; Luke 24:7; Comp John 3:14 with Num 21:8)

Relative to Christ’s passionate love, consider for a brief moment the character of the Lamb of God in the book of “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:1) in contrast to Satan. In Revelation 13 we read of a vicious sea-beast when seen under judgment, tells us something of the nature of God’s wrath and the second death. This cryptic beast is depicted in revelation as having ten horns and seven heads with the names “blasphemy” (Rev 13:1) written upon them. In the future, according to Revelation 19:20 and 20:10 this ten-headed sea-beast will be cast into “the lake of fire and brimstone" – a symbolic term for total annihilation - in other words, it will suffer the curse of the “second death”. This is referred to as “the wine of the wrath of God poured out without mixture [mercy] into the cup of His indignation” Rev 14:10 (eternal separation from God). Amazingly, as discussed earlier, this tells us something of the nature of the cup the Son of God was drinking from in Gethsemane!

In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s humanity drank from this cup of God’s wrath (a cup of indescribably painful separation from the great source of ALL life). Why, why did the innocent only begotten Son of the Father willingly take upon our sin and guilt and undergo this most horrible, unimaginable, ignominious death when He didn’t have to? (2 Cor 5:21). When He could have easily escaped suffering by calling upon “twelve legions of angels” to deliver Him? (Matt 26:53) There is only one reason and one reason alone. He was willing to say good-bye to life and He did it in His undying love for you and me – a love that was stronger than death!!! (Song 8:6). The experience of Gethsemane and Calvary were proof that He loves us more than He loved Himself.

"In the closing hours while hanging on the cross, He experienced to the fullest extent what man must experience when striving against sin. He realized how bad a man may become by yielding to sin. He realized the terrible consequences of the transgression of God's law; for the iniquity of the whole world was upon Him." 5 BC 1082

We all deserve eternal death because: “cursed be everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal 3:10) and friends NONE of us have! Yet Christ “has redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us” in man’s place. (Gal 3:13) ”He had taken the cup of suffering from guilty man, and purposed to drink it Himself, and in its place give to man the cup of blessing” (Testimony for the Church Vol. 2, p 203)

“His lifeblood flows from every lacerated vein. All this in consequence of sin! Nothing could have induced Christ to leave His honor and majesty in heaven, and come to a sinful world, to be neglected, despised, and rejected by those He came to save, and finally to suffer upon the cross, but eternal, redeeming love, which will ever remain a mystery”. {2T 207.1}

Glory to the risen Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world! No grave on earth could hold Him who in His God given divinity had power to break the bonds of death! In His infinite wisdom and foreknowledge of evil, long before the creation of the earth the heavenly Father agreed to a secret emergency plan that was actually suggested by His Son! A plan was devised that could be activated in case of a crisis of future disobedience. The Father and Son “hid” this plan from everyone until the time when the “revelation of the mystery” which had “been hid in God” for ages could be made known. Since the fall of man God’s “eternal purpose” has been fallen man’s salvation and restoration to the kingdom of glory. And it is ONLY through Christ’s INFINATE sacrifice that this has been made possible. In view of our little Scriptural exploration, the following words of the apostle take on particular significance:

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:”  (Eph 3:9-11)

From previous Bible texts and Spirit of Prophecy quotations we saw that Christ had the power to lay His life down and take it up (labo, labein, elabon - Greek, meaning to receive it back) from His Father again. This bears repeating. On the surface it appears Christ independently of Himself, with no involvement from His Father, rose from the dead (John 10:17,18). Yet here is where we meet a paradox. Contrary to what some believe, Jesus could not raise Himself from the dead. Far more evidence (at about 30 verses to 1) stacks up in favor that the Father raised up Christ from dead. So what do we believe?!! Did Jesus raise Himself from the dead, or did the Father raise Him from the dead? We need to understand according to Luke 23:46 the dying Son committed His spirit to the “hands” (power, possession) of His Father who was hidden in the thick darkness enveloping the cross. And it was the Father that bestowed His divine life back to Him for His resurrection and eternal glory and reunion with heaven. (Review the SP Vol 3 pp. 203,204 quote above). That seems to be the only way we can explain why the Bible states *over and over that the Father raised Christ from the dead. Here is just one example of the 30. "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit." – Rom 8:11

Life was poured back into Christ

Gal 1:1; Jn5:26; 2:19; 10:18: “‘Thou Son of God, Thy Father calls Thee! Come forth’. Death could hold dominion over Him no longer. Jesus rose from the dead a triumphant conqueror” (SR p.231). Into Jesus, who had stated ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ (Jn11:25) was poured immortal life and He arose glorious.



(*Scriptures Indicating The Father Raised Christ From The Dead: Heb 5:7; 13:20; Eph 1:19,20; Gal 1:1; Acts 2:24, 30, 32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:23; 30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31; 26:28; Rom 4:24,25; 6:4; 8:11 10:9; 1 Cor 6:14; 15:15; 2 Cor 4:14; 1 Thess 1:10; 2 Tim 2:8; 1 Pet 1:2.)


At the beginning of this study we saw Christ originally possessed indescribable majesty, a heavenly home, glory, security, friendship with the Father, and bestowed authority and power. By choice He risked all in becoming incarnate.  He humbly emptied Himself by pouring Himself out through His Spiritual life into the lives of men and woman for their redemption. He was prepared to lay down His inherited immortal life in love that was stronger than death. He became a curse in place of us and revealed the wicked intent of the Jewish leaders. Secondly He died on a cross for us to expose Satan’s character, tare away his disguise, and to contrast His and His Father’s infinite other-centered love against the backdrop of unfeeling selfish satanic evil. And thirdly, He died as our sacrifice to fulfill all the types and shadows in the Old Testament sacrificial service. The cross was an open stage a universal theatre for the exposure of evil in contrast to the demonstration of Christ’s righteousness. (Col 2:15; Luke 11:21,22). Christ empties (pours out) His life into the hearts of His true believers and they in turn are motivated to empty themselves of pride and self-glory and follow Christ as channels of blessing to others.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Cor 15: 54,55. Christ’s death brought us life. Christ today is our life!!!!! “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:” - Rom 6:5

Jesus said…  I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” – John 11:25.

“His Spirit “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” As the “whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together” (Romans 8:26, 22), the heart of the infinite Father is pained in sympathy. Our world is a vast lazar house, a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon. Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible. Yet God feels it all. In order to destroy sin and its results He gave His best Beloved, and He has put it in our

power, through cooperation with Him, to bring this scene of misery to an end. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.—Education, pp. 263, 264.

This is the mind of self-centred, self-obsessed, self-deluded Satan and Babylon that is destined to come to an end in the wake of the everlasting gospel. Through the grace of the Father, may we be determinded to keep the cross central to our lives. May we cultivate the “mind of Christ” by uniting with the living vine in other-centred love through the emptying of self for the service of others and for the sake of God’s kingdom and glory. Let this (self-emptying) mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Amen!