Summary: Believers cannot remain silent about the grace of Jesus Christ for indivduals and for justice in this world.

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March 13, 2005

"Crying Stones"

Sermon by Rev. Dr. Sherry Parker

Trinity United Methodist Church

5th Sunday in Lent

Please note: Because I do not use notes when I preach, the text in the written sermon may vary slightly from the spoken sermon. My prayer is that in both my writing and my speaking the Holy Spirit works to make this message worthy of God’s purpose.

Scripture Text: Luke 19:29-40

Next week on Palm Sunday, we will remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It took three years for Jesus’ ministry to come to its illogical conclusion. After dealing with the skepticism and eventual hostility of religious leaders, Jesus was met with the joyous shouts of the people at the gates of Jerusalem. This entrance, however, was the beginning of the end. The crowds shouted "Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the One who comes in the name of the Lord!" It was a parade, a pageant with the branches of palms waving and the people flinging their coats down for Jesus to ride over. (Molin 2002)

Perhaps you’ve had the chance to be in the midst of a celebration something like this some time in your life, a spontaneous parade or a crowd filled with excitement. A friend of mine has told me of driving into the city of Detroit for the celebration when the Tigers won the world’s series in 1968. For a few hours, anyway, there was unity and celebration in the troubled city. Perhaps you were there when the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. (You remember the Red Wings? You remember hockey?) I remember as a young woman experiencing the power of being a part of march in Washington, D.C. for women’s rights, thousands gathered at the Capitol Building steps.

And, of course, on the sidelines of these gatherings, there will always be those who are concerned about public order. It was the case, even as Jesus entered Jerusalem. A group of Pharisees approached him and said, as the NRSV translation reads, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop." The language they used was very strong. "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" In other words, "Not only make them stop, but tell them what they are saying is wrong!" (Culpepper 1995, 369)

We know that the religious leaders were at that time looking for a way that they might bring Jesus down. In addition, it was not safe to have such commotion under the rule of the Romans. Soldiers might mistake the impromptu parade and the shouts as the beginnings of a dangerous mob or even a political uprising. In either case, the Pharisees wanted Jesus stop the commotion.

Jesus’ response was immediate, "If these people were silent, the stones would cry out." Now, the Pharisees had heard that phrase before. It is in the words of a minor prophet, Habakkuk. In Chapter 2, the prophet condemns those who gather power and wealth to themselves by evil ways and at the expense of others. Habakkuk says that judgment will come, even from their homes, "The very stones will cry out from the wall, and the plaster will respond from the woodwork." (Hab. 2:11) Jesus’ point was that the shouts of the crowd were a judgment against their plotting.

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