Yesterday in my morning prayer I was confronted by the account of the stoning of Stephen. Whilst the film, “The Life of Brian” makes light of this method of public torture and execution, I find that I cannot. It is not a thing of the past – it is a brutal reality today. I will not recount the grisly details here, the photo above is the least gruesome I could find without making light of the issue. Paintings of the stoning of Stephen show him serene and almost unaffected by the stones, and whilst I totally understand the motivation of the painters in depicting the story in that way – I found that I could not.
The council members shouted and covered their ears. At once they all attacked Stephen and dragged him out of the city. Then they started throwing stones at him. The men who had brought charges against him put their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As Stephen was being stoned to death, he called out, “Lord Jesus, please welcome me!” He knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t blame them for what they have done.” Then he died.
Saul approved the stoning of Stephen. Some faithful followers of the Lord buried Stephen and mourned very much for him.
Stoning is a very deliberate kind of torture and execution. It is designed to be carried out by the whole community, it is an expression of the terrifying verdict that this whole community has decided very publicly to demonstrate that they can no longer abide you drawing another breath in their midst, and they will all play their part in killing you. It is also designed to free any single person of individual guilt – with stoning it is impossible to tell which stone actually caused the death or who threw it.
“It might not have been MY particular stone…
Jesus said: “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” And one by one, they melted away.
Martin Luther, talking about the crucifixion, said this: “We all carry about in our pockets His very nails.” He might just have easily said, “We all carry about in our pockets His very stones.
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