Category Archives: Palm Sunday

The Stones will Cry Out

The Gospel narratives offer many different aspects of the Triumphal Entry. In Luke’s narrative, the disciples are singing the praises of Jesus at his coming, but the Pharisees are not pleased with their benediction.

In verse 39 of Luke 19, some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” In other words, “Stop them from pouring out adoration towards you.” As Matthew Henry writes, “Christ’s triumph and his disciples’ joyful praises of them, are the vexation of proud Pharisees, that are enemies to him and his kingdom.”[1] Luke is the only one to report this response of the Pharisees. Jesus is sharing honor with God, and the Pharisees despise it. Jesus responds in verse 40 with that powerful and memorable response: “If these people were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Some have viewed this statement to say that even if human beings do not praise God, the stones will do so. There is a sense in which this idea is true. When our Lord Jesus died, the gospels tell us that the earth shook, and the rocks were split, as if they uttered the praises of Christ.[2] In other words, the stones were witnesses of the sacrifice of Christ. But in this passage, it appears that Luke is drawing an allusion to Habakkuk 2. In Habakkuk, God tells Habakkuk that He will destroy Israel at the hands of the Babylonians. God will use a wicked nation to bring justice to His chosen people who have committed far greater idolatry. In Habakkuk 2 we read, “For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.” The stones refer to the stones of the temple. The temple represented God’s presence. The witness of the temple itself is against them. Jesus in Luke alludes to this passage. The prayer of Habakkuk is beginning to be answered. If my peoples are silenced, then the very stones will bring witness against you. Their house will oppose them.”[3] The stones will cry out in judgment. And indeed, they do cry out in AD 70 when the Romans armies surround the Holy City and bring God’s judgment upon apostate Israel.

In our day, we can be sure that if this nation does not accept Jesus in our midst, the stones will cry out in judgment against it. Christ will be honored. He will be praised. He will be adored. Justice will be vindicated and proclaimed whether through human witnesses or the witness of stones. God’s whole creation will bless the Blessed one, Jesus Christ.

[1] Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible. Luke 19:39 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc5.Luke.xx.html

[2] Matthew 27:51. Matthew Henry found this idea plausible.

[3] Steve Wilkins. Sermon.

Chesterton and the Donkey

Chesterton once penned a poem from the perspective of the donkey that Jesus rode:

G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936)

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Why all the joy with the triumphal entry?

It goes back to Psalm 2. Yahweh laughed at his enemies. In Zechariah 9, after ravaging the enemies of Israel in His North to South destruction tour, Yahweh enters Jerusalem to great shouts:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

As Joyce Baldwin observes: “His arrival is to be accompanied with wild joy.”

On Jesus’ Victory

Doug Wilson writes:

Not only did Jesus conduct the victory parade before the victory, but His victory, when He came to it, was accomplished by dying, and not by killing. He crushed the serpent’s head by allowing Himself to be bruised by a crushing blow (Is. 53:5).

Palm Sunday Pastoral Meditation

Jesus is the hope of the world. The crowds gathering and cheering the coming of Jesus into Jerusalem indicates that they were placing their hopes and expectations on Him. They may have failed to understand in what sense Jesus would rescue and deliver them, but yet they knew that the man riding a donkey was a rescuer and deliverer. This causes us to consider how Christ comes to us each Lord’s Day rescuing and delivering us from our sins (confession) and taking us to his heavenly abode (ascension). For us, the One coming on a donkey is a ruling priest and king.
Prayer:
Holy and merciful Christ, You came for us when we would never come to You. You acted on our behalf; took upon yourself our guilt. May we be ever mindful that your entry into Jerusalem was an entry unto death: the death that saved us from condemnation. To you, O Christ, we offer our thanksgiving. Amen.