Right at the end of Luke’s Palm Sunday report, there is a short, but meaningful exchange between Jesus and Jerusalem’s religious leaders. It’s easy to overlook since the main focus of the story is the grand parade and spectacle that marked Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem. Made to feel threatened by the mass adulation of this new Messiah, the Pharisees asked Jesus to call the celebration to a halt. In response Jesus makes the statement “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would cry out.”
It’s an arrogant statement, on its surface, and one that if uttered today, would undoubtedly be dissected by modern news media for its lack of political correctness, and for the sheer hubris it seemingly reflects. We would be subject to relentless sound-bites of this statement on late night talk shows. We might be wondering if Jesus was fit for leadership.
While Jesus was certainly a charismatic and confident leader, Jesus’ was not making a claim about himself, but about the inevitability of the Kingdom of God rising up and changing a world that had grown out of balance. It was a confession of faith in a God that promised reconciliation and restoration with God’s people. It was a movement that had become so strong, so connected to God’s ways, that no amount of force would be able to keep it from growing.
There is another inevitability contained in this statement as well. Jesus was referring to himself – telling the Pharisees that even if he, himself were silenced, there would still be voices to shout Hosanna, to speak truth to the powerful, to advocate for the poor, and to represent the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus knew the inevitable – that his journey to the cross would ultimately unleash an even more powerful force. One that would overtake the ruling empire, despite the decades of persecution that would follow. One where the stones would cry out far after the death of this Messiah.
We are the stones that Jesus was referring to. We are the stones who speak for those who are voiceless. We are the stones that grind injustice into dust. We are the stones that shout love into a world of hate, and life into a culture of death and violence.
As we follow him to the cross, how will you cry out as a stone in Jesus’ name?
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.