A Stone's Throw
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and His disciples followed Him.
A person can only imagine what is meant by "a stone's throw," as it could be a wide variance in distance. Perhaps it could be twenty feet, or fifty feet, or a hundred feet,... or more. It really doesn't matter how far away Jesus was from the disciples because they weren't paying attention to what Jesus was doing; they were all sleeping and unaware of Jesus' conversation with His Father. So, if no one heard the conversation, how did it get recorded?
When I consider the meaning of "a stone's throw," I think of the act of punishment that was administered to criminals and others back in that time period. When someone was "stoned," I picture people in a circle perhaps about fifty feet in diameter with the victim in the middle, so those who are administering the death sentence are only twenty-five feet away. With no escape route, the victim is hit from all sides with no cover or protection. This is what Stephen suffered at the hands of the religious clergy, and it was also with the consent of Saul of Tarsus, who later met Jesus on the road to Damascus and became known as Paul the Apostle. Stoning was a brutal method of execution and many people were involved in carrying out the death sentence.
Probably the number one event where a stone was used to injure and cause death to someone was the battle between David and Goliath, the Philistine warrior of immense size who was felled by a single stone thrown from a sling by a small shepherd boy. The accuracy of hitting Goliath's forehead had to be precise; it was the only area of his body that was briefly exposed. How could David do it? As a shepherd guarding sheep from being attacked by predators, David became an expert with the sling, warding off those animals that pried on his flock. A single rock became the instrument of execution not only to protect David's sheep, but also to thwart the plans of a Philistine giant. 1 Sam. 17:1-58
From the account of John's Gospel, Jesus escaped a stoning incident twice. It was the religious leaders of the day who attempted this act to kill Jesus, because their hatred of Him had reached the point where they thought He deserved death. When Jesus claimed to be God's Son, He was accused of blasphemy, and at the same time, when Jesus healed the invalid man on the Sabbath, the Jews tried to kill him. When Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham and when Jesus claimed to be God, the religious elite tried to seize Him, in preparation to stone Him, but Jesus slipped away and escaped their grasp. John 8:59; 10:31
"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." With those words, Jesus ended the discussion about the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Her accusers, the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, knew that Jesus had exposed their intentions of trying to trap Him, so they had no choice but to leave the temple courts. Their own sins had been exposed for all to see; they were condemned and were more guilty than the woman. John 8:1-11
When considering stones, probably the stone of largest size that comes to mind is the stone covering the entrance to Jesus' tomb. The disciples wondered and asked each other: "Who will roll the stone away from the tomb?" Scripture states the stone was very large, that it would require great strength to remove it from the opening, but of course, it would be a small matter for an angel to roll it away. Pilate's order to the guards to "make the tomb as secure as you know how" was no match for the power from on High. The stone moved.
Second of importance to the stone being removed from Jesus' tomb was that of Lazarus, Jesus' friend and the brother of Mary and Martha. That stone was covering the entrance to a cave, so it seems that it could have been even larger than the one at Jesus' tomb. When Jesus said "take away the stone," it moved!
Regarding stones, nothing can compare to God Himself writing the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, not just once, but twice. Doing so a second time enhances the importance of the words that are written on the tablets; it is imperative to have those words recorded permanently on stone. And it is likewise imperative to have those same words written on the tablets of human hearts, not just on stone. Deut. 5:6-21
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Could Jesus have done that? Could He have changed the stones to bread? Of course, He could have easily done that; it would have been no problem. But Jesus answered back with an "It is written," and by doing so, the devil was left without recourse. Although Jesus was physically hungry after forty days and nights without food, He still had nourishment at His disposal. This is similar to the episode and encounter with the Woman at the Well. When the disciples returned from town with food, they encouraged Him: "Rabbi, eat something," but Jesus said to them "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." What could this food possibly be? Jesus said to them "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." Quoting Scripture and doing the Father's will was adequate food for Jesus,... and so it should be likewise for us. Jesus claimed to be the Bread of Life when He said: "I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Jesus is the true bread that came down from Heaven. The words He speaks are spirit and they are life.., eternal life. Matt. 4:1-4; John 4:27-38
Jesus Himself, being "a stone," is of vital importance, as He is the stone that the builders rejected, but has become the capstone of the building. Jesus is also referred to as the chief cornerstone, the primary stone to which the entire building is aligned. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line." But for those who do not believe, it is a stone that causes men to stumble, a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey God's message and because they reject Jesus as the Living Stone. Isa. 28:16; 1 Peter 2:4, 8
One day Jesus left the temple and was walking away when His disciples came up to him and called his attention to its buildings. "Do you see all these things?" Jesus asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." Talk about destruction! Not one stone will be left in place, and this occurs to the building that was built to worship God and honor God. It is truly amazing that the temple of God made of stone would become a pile of rubble. Matt. 24:2
The Biblical record reveals stones of all sizes and types, from a stone that can be held in a person's hand to stones of immense size used for tombs and for building purposes. But as Jesus explained, even the large building stones are "thrown" down. Stones with letters and writings on them are viable and read for many years after they are written, making them a permanent record of an important event, etched in stone.
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