Summary: Jesus said if we didn’t praise him, the stones would cry out. How can we keep the stones quiet? According to our text there are ways to keep the stones quiet.
KEEPING THE STONES QUIET
How many Palm Sunday sermons have you heard in your lifetime? If you are a Senior Citizen like I am you may have heard 50, 60, or 70 or more Palm Sunday sermons. A few years ago the people who are in charge of liturgical concerns in the church combined Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday together. Previously, Passion Sunday which celebrates the agonizing experiences of Jesus during his final week on earth leading up to Good Friday was recognized on the Sunday before Palm Sunday. So preachers have an option of preaching a traditional Palm Sunday sermon on this Sunday before Easter or recognizing the tragic events of Holy Week leading up to Good Friday.
If there are no services during Holy Week it does seem somewhat awkward to go right from Palm Sunday to Easter without acknowledging what Jesus went through during his passion week leading up to Good Friday. But having said that, since the Palm Sunday tradition dies hard and most people expect a Palm Sunday sermon on this Sunday before Easter, I have chosen to preach a Palm Sunday sermon. Since people have heard so many Palm Sunday sermons during their lifetimes it is difficult to come up with something fresh and new.
However, this morning I am going to focus on a verse found in Luke 19:40. I found very little in the commentaries dealing with this verse. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem with his disciples and followers acclaiming him as the Messiah, the Pharisees became jealous and said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell your disciples to stop.” To which Jesus replies in verse 40, “I tell you if these were silent, the very stones would shout out.” In other words if his disciples did not shout the praises of Jesus as he entered the city, the stones would have to speak for them. So we are going to speak about keeping the stones quiet. Jesus is to be praised on this triumphant day and if we don’t praise him who will? As a spiritual put it, ”If we don’t praise him the rocks are going to cry out.” I’m sure none of us want the stones and rocks to praise Jesus for us. What do we have to do to keep the stones quiet?
Some may think it strange for Jesus to speak of inanimate objects like stones praising God. But it is not unusual for the Bible to speak of objects like rocks, hills, mountains, and trees praising and acknowledging the power and authority of God. Even the creation recognizes the authority and majesty of the creator. In the creation story found in the early pages of Genesis, the Hebrews never got the creation mixed up with the creator. Other creation stories of the ancient world confused the creation with the creator. They either had the creation creating the creator or they worshipped the creation instead of the creator. The ancient Hebrews never fell into that trap. They were unique in worshipping the creator and not some tree, hill, or mountain. God was in charge and even the rocks, hills, trees, and mountains recognized his authority.
So we find verses like Psalm 96:1 which says to let the heavens rejoice, the earth to be glad, and the seas roar with the fullness thereof. Or that majestic verse in Isaiah 55 speaks of the mountains and the hills breaking forth into singing and the trees of the fields clapping their hands together. Or in Hab 2:11 which has a direct relation to our text where we find the stones crying out of the wall. Then in one of my favorite verses found in Job 38, God speaks about the morning stars singing together.
These verses are not just literary tricks or gimmicks. . The creation does acknowledge the power and dominion of God. We can think of God calling the sun up every morning to start its journey from the east to the west. We have a hint of this in the psalm which says the heavens are telling the glory of God. And the irony is that while many of God’s creatures have trouble giving him credit, the creation has no trouble recognizing the majesty and dominion of God. And even when Christ was crucified, we read of the sun refusing to shine, the earth shaking, and the rocks splitting apart. So Jesus was not far fetched when he said that if my disciples are silent the stones will cry out. If we don’t want the stones crying out for us, how do we keep them quiet? Let me suggest some ways coming from our text today in Luke 19:28 to 38.
I. WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE THE POSITION OF CHRIST
In the first place if the stones are to keep quiet we are to acknowledge the position of Christ. The disciples recognized the authority of Jesus. They obeyed his command. In the first part of this passage Jesus told the disciples to go into town to find a colt tied up that had never been ridden before. If someone asked them what they were doing they were to say that the Master needs it. Some of us might have found that to be a very strange request. But the disciples did as Jesus told them. And the book of Mark said they found everything as Jesus had told them. If we would keep the stones quiet we must acknowledge the position of Christ as Lord and Master of all. We must pledge our complete allegiance to Christ as Lord. We must recognize that God wants our complete obedience. It is not enough to praise him with the sound of our voices, but we must obey his word. As the old hymn says we are to trust and obey. The words of that hymn are as true today as they ever were. How much trouble do people experience by not obeying the commands of Jesus?