Reading: Luke 19:28-40
Even the rocks will cry out. At the triumphal entry, when Jesus was told to make the people stop praising the King entering Jerusalem, Jesus answered that if the people were silent, then even the rocks would cry out. This passage stands out to me, because it is a reversal of everything that had happened before. Before, whenever anybody saw Jesus as a king, or as anything beyond a traveling preacher, Jesus asked them not to tell anybody about it. Before, it was other people who pressed Jesus to come out and show himself, but this time it was the Pharisees who were asking Jesus to quiet his followers.
When there is a major change, it really stands out, and the reader has to ask about why the change happened. Why did Jesus suddenly accept being praised as a king entering Jerusalem, rather than tell the people to be quiet as He always had before. What made the Triumphal entry different than the numerous times that Jesus had entered Jerusalem before? What are we supposed to get out of this?
I guess it would be fair to say that knowing where the story goes gives us a clue. Palm Sunday is always celebrated the week before Easter; we are going a little off schedule so that we can bring in a few high points of the last week before the Crucifixion; but the point is that the triumphal entry was a point of no turning back.
I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but I think it might be a good time to mention a few of the events that happen in Holy Week. Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is associated with Holy week and Jesus predicts that Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed. Jesus starts speaking in parables where he equates himself with God, and he starts using words like Messiah when speaking.
After the Triumphal Entry, there is no longer a Messianic Secret. Jesus no longer tells people to remain silent, and Jesus speaks and acts openly. Jesus, however, speaks and acts in a way that does not gain support. If Jesus talks about being a king or being a messiah, it is something that invites death from Rome. When Jesus denounces the profiteering in the temple, it is something that challenges the status quo and the religious authorities. When Jesus predicts the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, he speaks in a way that would keep his supporters away. It is almost like Jesus is welcoming the cross, and he is pushing all who would follow him away.
The thing is, the crowds want a messiah, they want somebody to come and make everything right. They everything to be made right again — they want the kingdom of Judah back. The crowds, however, are not everybody. When somebody claims to be king, the Roman governor, Herod and his supporters, and the Sadducees would all be seeking the man’s death.
The odd thing, when I look over Holy Week; Jesus completely owned that he was King, and Messiah, but he also told the people to continue paying taxes to Rome, that Jerusalem would be destroyed, and other things that made it clear that Judah was not His Kingdom. What did Jesus do when he went to the Temple after he entered Jerusalem as a king? He made a whip, turned over tables, and drove out the animals. Jesus did things that would attract the attention of all of the authorities, while driving away those who would be his allies. After an entire ministry of telling people not to say dangerous things, Jesus drew attention to himself in such a way to invite arrest by both by the temple guards and by Roman soldiers; and to isolate himself so that he was vulnerable.
What is clear is that from the moment Jesus entered Jerusalem, he was headed for the cross; whether he would be arrested by the Romans or the Temple security. In one sense I’m not sure why the rocks would cry out, but in another sense I see that this time was the time. Perhaps when Jesus said that even the rocks would cry out, he was expressing that it was too late to stop them; the events leading to good Friday had already been set in motion.
What I do see is that when Jesus revealed himself, he didn’t hold back. Jesus entered Jerusalem as the king, he cleaned out the temple, and he prophetically spoke about the future. When I think of Jesus’ message, I think of what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well sometime before — that the time was coming when people wouldn’t worship God in one place or another, but in spirit and in truth. Wen Jesus went into Jerusalem, he pulled down the barriers between God and humanity.
Jesus threw out those doing business at the temple — those who stood in the way of those people who could get no closer to Jerusalem’s symbol of God’s presence. I think there is a reason that even the rocks would cry out; Jesus was Emanuel; God with us. If I lived in that time, and I was able to take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and I went to the temple to worship, a goy like me would not have been able to go beyond the place where the sacrifices were being sold. Even if I were a Jew, I could go a little closer — but even then there would be barriers. Only the High Priest could enter the holy place.
Jesus predicted the day would come when we would not need to take the journey, only to be kept back because only the elite could go to God. The rocks would cry out, because Jesus was about to reveal Himself as God with us; and this week would change the world forever. There are no longer walls surrounding more walls to keep us away from God. The world is no longer divided into people who can approach God and those who cannot because the dividing wall has been torn down. I say the rocks had some good news to cry out about.