In the Gospel from today’s Mass (John 8:51-59), Jesus is about to get stoned.  What happens next?:

[51] Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death.” [52] The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, `If any one keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ [53] Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you claim to be?” [54] Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God. [55] But you have not known him; I know him. If I said, I do not know him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know him and I keep his word. [56] Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” [57] The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” [58] Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” [59] So they took up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

As so often in scripture, it is easy to gloss over something profound.  Consider:

  • Jesus has just claimed to be God.
  • The Jews, enraged seek to kill him.  They are a rabid mob with blood lust, seeking to kill the man who claimed to be God.
  • Stoning was the prescribed penalty for those accused of blasphemy in the Old Testament (Lev 24:16).
  • So often in modern culture, the connection to violence is second or third hand; we see violence through media, either fictional or real.  But most never get close.
  • Imagine, picking up stones with a group of other people, and throwing them at a person, again and again, bruising and breaking the person’s body, hearing the person’s pleads for mercy and shrieks of pain, continuing to cast stones until the person is dead.  In your blood lust, being thrilled when you realize that your stone hit the person in the head.  It is sickening.
  • Despite the crowd and their blood lust, Jesus is able to hide Himself and walk out of the Temple.

It is a miraculous escape.  But not surprising.  For Jesus has just said that He is the “I AM”.

And God will not be stoned.