A Prayer of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will


Death By Stoning

Why is that Jesus was turned over to the Romans by certain Jewish leaders because it was illegal to stone Him, yet just a small time later Stephen is stoned in Jerusalem for  preaching about Jesus being at the right hand of God?    Could it be that Stephen was just a small fish compared to Jesus who was very public for about 3.5 years, and/or that stoning death of Stephen could be covered up more easily?


Though the evidence indicates that it was illegal under the Roman law for the Jews to execute anyone (John 18:30,31), it appears that the Jews sometimes resorted to stones and the Romans chose to ignore it.  Jewish law mandated stoning for certain offenses such as adultery.  From the Roman perspective, and that of Pilate the governor, there was no harm done provided no riots ensued.

You are correct in suggesting that the stoning of Stephen was more easily overlooked. Furthermore, his stoning would not stir a riot as would that of Jesus.  The Jewish authorities were much impressed with Jesus' influence among the people:

Jn.12:19  FNT So the Pharisees said to themselves: Be beholding that you accomplish nothing. Behold the world has departed after him.

They were in a quandary as to what to do.  On the one hand, they feared the Roman response should they kill him illegally and a riot resulted.  On the other, they felt they had to do something.  They thought him to be about to launch a rebellion against Rome that would not be in their interest.

Mk.14:1 FNT Now after two days it was the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how by treachery having laid hold of him they may kill him. 2 For they were saying: Not during the festival, lest there be [a] riot among the people.

Jesus was not immune to stones.  We have this:
Jn.8:57 FNT So the Jews said to him: You do not yet have fifty years, and you have seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said to them: Truly truly I say to you: Before Abraham came to be, I am. 59 So they took stones that they throw [them] upon him, but Jesus hid and went out of the temple.
And this:
Jn.10:30 FNT I and my father are one [thing]. 31 The Jews again took up stones in order that they stone him.
Our Lord avoided situations where he was likely to be stoned, such as being isolated from the public in the presence of his enemies.  But when his hour had come, he arranged for his arrest under conditions that would not spark a riot -- at night, in a remote place, attended only by his sleepy disciples.  Roman soldiers were in the party that came to arrest him (John 18:3), and they protected him from stoning during the night.

Unlike Stephen, he was a very public figure who stirred the passions of many, both pro and con.  Both the Jewish authorities and the Roman occupying power under Pilate, the governor, feared riots.  Any public uproar in the Empire made the emperor very unhappy.  The Lord took advantage of this by appearing only in public settings where many persons were gathered, such as in the temple precincts where any attempt to stone him was likely to spark a riot.  Sometimes when tempers flared they picked up stones, but then after considering the possible consequences, his enemies thought better of following through.

This is how I see Stephen's stoning explained, whereas Jesus was not stoned.  You seem to have come to the same conclusion.  Stephen, a relatively small fish as you say, was not so likely to spark a major riot when stoned.  He was also in the lion's den -- before the high priest and the Sanhedrin -- when he gave his inflammatory testimony.  He had not many supporters in attendance -- perhaps none -- so that they could do with him as they would without sparking a riot.  But that is the very sort of situation that Jesus avoided until the end.

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