The Stones Would Shout Out

In Luke 19:37- 38 the disciples of Jesus are shouting triumphantly to the crowd as their teacher enters Jerusalem: 

“ As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen,  saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”

However, in verse 39 and 40, being suspicious of this young preacher;

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”

 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

“If these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

What a bold and defiant statement! His brashness would not endear him or his followers to the spiritual leaders of Israel. They felt compelled to defend their faith against this heretic who threatened age old traditions that had sustained the nation of Israel through strife, exile and persecution. The faith given to them through Abraham and the laws passed down from Moses were bedrock for their people Israel. They were not going to let this poorly educated carpenter’s son from Nazareth tear down the institution that identified them as God’s people.  And certainly not one who made such statements from the back of an ass’s colt.

Was Jesus being brash and arrogant? Was he flaunting his deeds and milking the crowd like a conceited politician? Let’s go back three years to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, “there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2: 1-5)

Jesus had been baptized and spent 40 days in the desert. And yet at this wedding he refused to perform his first miracle saying “My hour has not yet come.” Was he being conceited, feeling such an act was not worthy of a man who had received the Holy Spirit from God and triumphed over Satan in the wilderness? Did he want to wait till he had entered Jerusalem and perform a wondrous miracle before the temple, the people and the rulers of Israel?

He was human and human vanity was something he would have to struggle with, as we all have or should do.  The fact that he was human is foundational to our salvation which Jesus purchased on the cross. There can be no salvation unless the life Jesus gave was human and not divine. And there can be no forgiveness of sin unless the human Jesus, not Christ, could overcome his own sinful human nature. He did overcome conceit in the wilderness when he declared:  “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”(Matthew 4:10d)

Perhaps this young man of 29 or 30 had known all his life that he was destined to die. His declaration to his mother that “My hour has not yet come” indicated that both he and his mother were aware of his impending death.  He understood that a journey of hope and despair lay ahead.  Even in those early days of his ministry he may have been asking, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me…” (Luke 22:42).  He and Mary both perceived that if he performed this simple miracle he would be committed to that dark future.

Still it was his mother who pushed him to make a start. Mary, better than anyone knew what her son was struggling with. For she could not forget that night  in the stable when those good and simple men had …”made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.  19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:17-19). Mary must have been tempted to let the guest drink water and her son could shrink back into the crowd and return to his father’s business. She may have hoped that he would find a nice Jewish girl and give her lots of grandchildren. Let some other mother’s son bring salvation to God’s children and leave her with the son she loved.

Mary told the servant, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

And so began the journey from Cana to Jerusalem. And on this bright spring day as the people placed the cloaks before him and the disciple sang out, “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ (Mark 11:9) Jesus declared to the Pharisees “If these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Jesus, a young man who had been unwilling to turn water into wine, now entered Jerusalem a hero. Yet he knew before the setting of the sun on Friday he would be hanging dead on a cross. And in five extraordinary days, this young man who was reluctant to declare his ministry, would heal the blind and the lame, shame the accusers, defy the power of Rome, cleanse the feet of those who are unclean and share a simple meal with those he loved.  And he did none of these things because he was almighty and powerful or regal and proud, or judgmental and sanctimonious, or because he was God. He did them because he was small and weak, compassionate and humble, kind-hearted and loving. He did these things because he was human.

So as his disciple shouted “Hosanna” and declared the “… the king who comes in the name of the Lord”, let us declare to a needful world the compassionate Jesus, the humble Jesus, the loving Jesus, the human Jesus. It is critical for both believers and non-believers to understand that it was not the Son of God who died on the cross but the Son of Man. And that salvation was paid for with human suffering and human blood. Unless we fully realize his fear, his doubts, his anxiety, and his suffering we cannot receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and receive God’s love. 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.(John 16:20)

For all of God’s children who have suffered, Jesus also suffered. And before the end of all things the world will know the price God paid for our salvation. And the world will know because we who felt the pain of  Christ’s death and the joy of His resurrection shall, like the stones, shout it out.