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They tried to stone Jesus in John 8:

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

They tried again in John 10:

31Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” ...

39Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

They successfully stoned Stephen to death in Acts 7:

59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Why did the Sanhedrin decide to send Jesus to Pilate for a trial whose outcome was uncertain? Why didn't they try one more time to stone Jesus to death?

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  • Based on the Stoning laws of the [Sanhedrin 6:4], we can presume Stephen fell off the stoning platform onto his knees [Acts 7] before the stoning was completed. - If John 8-10 is an accurate account of the Pharisees' debates with Jesus, then the "opponents" [who] picked up stones to stone him" were breaking their own oral law by not arresting Jesus first to establish a trial against his supposed heresy. – חִידָה Apr 4 at 14:59
  • Sanhedrin's laws for סְּקִילָה Stoning [ Sanhedrin 6:4 ] - sefaria.org/… – חִידָה Apr 4 at 15:01
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    Thanks for the pointer. – Tony Chan Apr 4 at 19:35
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    Please don't heedlessly echo John's language about "the Jews," which is often hostile, and fails to make distinctions between different Jewish individuals and groups. Given what has happened in the last 2000 years of history, this usage comes across as more antisemitic than ever. Jesus was a Jew. Mary was a Jew, as were Paul and the apostles. "The Jews" were not to blame for the crucifixion. – Ben Crowell Apr 5 at 1:40
  • Good point. HoldToTheRod has edited my question accordingly. Thanks. – Tony Chan Apr 5 at 13:22
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They may well have considered trying again to stone him

Some consider Sanhedrin 43a to preserve an arrest warrant for Jesus, in which it is indicated that Jesus was to be arrested for sorcery and put to death by stoning. Historian Paul Maier examines the evidence here and suggests this was originally written before Jesus' death (since afterwards it was well-known that He died by crucifixion).

In any event, whether there had been an intention to stone him or not, this is not how it played out.

Why death by crucifixion instead?

Talmage suggests both a theological & political significance to Jesus being put to death by crucifixion instead of by stoning:

John the apostle intimates...a determination on the part of the Jews to have Jesus put to death not only by Roman sanction but by Roman executioners; for, as we readily may see, had Pilate approved the death sentence and handed the Prisoner over to the Jews for its infliction, Jesus would have been stoned... whereas the Lord had plainly foretold that His death would be be crucifixion, which was a Roman method of execution...Furthermore, if Jesus had been put to death by the Jewish rulers, even with governmental sanction, an insurrection among the people might have resulted, for there were many who believed on Him. The crafty hierarchs were determined to bring about His death under Roman condemnation. (Jesus the Christ pp. 632-633)

I can see at least three reasons why the Sanhedrin preferred to have Jesus put to death by Rome:

  1. Fear of the people. As Nigel J already noted, the multitudes could be manipulated but could also be unreliable. If the Sanhedrin sought to turn the people against a popular figure, they risked the multitude turning on them instead! They may well have generated an uprising, but risked an uprising in the wrong direction. By having the sentence decreed and carried out by Pilate, they ensured its success. If the people rose up against Rome, Rome had the resources to brutally quash the rebellious.

    That this factored into the Sanhedrin's plan is evident by the fact that they arrested Jesus in seclusion at night, rather than taking one of many opportunities to have Him arrested when He could easily be located while teaching in public during the day (see Luke 19:47).

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  1. They knew Pilate could be manipulated into doing their dirty work. Despite the fact that Pilate wanted to let Jesus go, his own standing with Rome and the risk of an appeal to Rome were adequate to paint him into a corner with this threat:

And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. (John 19:12)

The significance of this threat is explored on this site here, and my own research on the political realities Pilate faced if he did not comply is found here.

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  1. A slow and painful death. The Sanhedrin did not merely want to kill Jesus, they wanted to destroy His movement. Having Him put to death by crucifixion would be humiliating, and having Him put to death by Rome would intimate that His teachings were opposed by the might of Rome. The slow, tortuous death by crucifixion also afforded ample opportunity to mock Him as He suffered (see Matthew 27:39-43).

Conclusion

Death by crucifixion would not only be more humiliating and more painful, but by having Jesus executed by Rome, the Sanhedrin could accomplish its designs with the fewest risks (in their minds) that He would escape yet again.

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The stoning of Stephen, the execution of James (the brother of John) and the seizing of Peter with a view to his, also, execution ; all happened in the aftermath of Jesus' crucifixion at the hands of the Romans, facilitated by the Jews, and in the aftermath of Jesus' death as he voluntarily expired.

Until then, they feared the people (who would have urged the people) ; and they feared the authority of Rome, as yet untested against Jesus and his considerable following in Judaea. Stoning was a theory, but not a real option. Jesus, himself, had once intervened and prevented a stoning, it should be remembered.

The multitudes proved themselves fickle. They were feared. They were manipulated. But they could not be trusted to do the right thing at the right time.

The world seeth me no more, said Jesus and only his own, individually, plus several hundred brethren at one particular time, saw him again. To the world, he had disappeared, entombed, then, so it was slanderously rumoured, his body had been stolen.

Multitudes had followed, five thousand one time, then four thousand another, then less, then a time when every man went to his house and Jesus went to the mount of Olives, overnight.

Then a gathering, and an anointing for burial which one of his own followers criticised as a 'waste' of money.

Pharisees and Saduccees, normally enemies, less strict Herodians, doctors of the law and scribes who considered themselves the custodians of scripture, all overlapped in their resistance to the one born king of the Jews who, yet, made no attempt to forcibly take the throne, the temple and secular power over the people.

Many were disappointed who had assumed that Messiah would restore the natural kingdom of Israel. This they referred to as 'redemption' but a far greater redemption had taken place, did they have an eye (of faith) to see what had really occurred in the three hours of darkness as the crucified suffered ; not only crucifixion, but the stripes necessary from God to satisfy his own righteousness on account of the sins of many.

Political manoeuverings (between disparate factions) personal relationships (such as Pilate and Herod) diabolic influences (over, then within, Judas) all conspired together as the unstoppable power of God, which would eventually 'turn the world upside down', continued.

God's purposes would be fulfilled in a way undreamt of by men and even by spiritual powers in heavenly places. Had they known what God would do, they would never - never - have crucified the Lord of glory.

But their greed, their hatred, their unspirituality, their self-righteousness and their motivation (an indwelling spirit which was both a liar and a murderer from the beginning) drove them onwards . . . .

. . . until, eventually, all came to a head and they came out in the dark, aided by a bribed traitor, and forcibly arrested Jesus without evidence, without a witness and without proper authority.

The Son of man (that is to say The Son - come - of man) was betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Those who instigated these matters were not in control of themselves, that they might decide 'Let's try and stone him.' It was neither a calm decision nor a properly arranged and authorised procedure. Powers in the heavens (not the third heaven but the second heaven) orchestrated this dreadful event. Men were mere pawns in this war between heaven and earth.

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It appears to me your asking two questions? First, "Why did the Jews stone Jesus one more time?" Second, "Why did the Jews send Jesus to Pilate?"

The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy and wanted to stone Him at John 5:17-18. John 8:56-59. At John 10:30-39. Please notice what verse 31 states, The Jews took up stones "AGAIN" to stone Him." And at vs39, "Therefore they were seeking "AGAIN" to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp."

I hate to say this (because I don't like to speculate) but I'm going to guess and say Jesus probably eluded the Jews at other times during His ministry.

Now to your second question? We have at the trial of Jesus from the Apostle John's point of view at John 19:7-8. "The Jews answered him/Pilate, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out the Son of God."

At John 10:33 the Jews state, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out God." (As a side note please notice here it says "out God" and at John 19:7, "out the Son of God). Why the difference?

Now, getting back to the trial. Pilate explicitly found no guilt in Jesus (including the guilt of treason) that the Jews were pressing. Jesus was not convicted of ANYTHING under Roman law. But the Romans had jurisdiction at the time and the Jews used the Roman system to have Jesus executed (probably so they could claim that they did not do it).

The Jews were NOT forbidden from executing someone under their own law. There were forbidden from doing so without Roman permission, which Pilate explicitly granted. Jess had indeed NOT violated any Roman law. He DID violate Jewish law, at lease in their eyes. So the Jews took Him to Pilate to gain permission to execute Him and they received it. Of course Jesus did NOT break any law, whether Roman or Jewish.

The complete trial record (in my opinion) is at Matthew 26:57-66. Notice the explicit question the high priest Caiaphas ask Jesus at verse 63. At Luke 22:70 Jesus says, "Yes, I am." The simple fact is the Jews did not believe Jesus.

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