My mom loved collecting rocks. I still remember a certain camping trip to Colorado where she and my sister hiked up a mountain to see the view, only to come back down lugging a huge rock that Mom just had to have. When Mom passed away last May and I knew we would sell the family home, I brought some of her rocks home with me to put in my yard. They make me smile and think of her, but for the most part rocks simply don't interest me.
But yesterday I gained a whole new appreciation for them.
Palm Sunday reminds us of the day Jesus entered Jerusalem. He came riding on a donkey, surrounded by crowds shouting, "Hosanna!" They thought their new king had arrived. A king who would rescue them from the oppressive Romans. Reading Luke 19:38, you get a feel for what their mindset was that day:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
They'd seen Jesus do some amazing things so far. He'd healed the lame, the blind, the deaf. He'd raised Lazarus from the dead. There wasn't anything that Jesus couldn't do. Surely he now came to kick the Romans out of town and take his rightful place on the throne.
Of course we know that was never Jesus's intention. He did come to save the lost, but not the way they thought. And aren't we who weren't even born yet thankful? If Jesus's only mission two-thousand years ago had been to remove the Romans, we would have no hope and no future with God.
But not everyone was happy about Jesus coming to Jerusalem. The Pharisees in particular. These party-poopers grumbled and mumbled and complained while everyone else is shouting and singing and dancing. Can't you just picture them? Dressed in their fine robes, standing off from the "regular" folks, with scowling, dark faces.
I've seen "Pharisees" like this. People who don't "get" Jesus or his followers. They don't understand what the big deal is. They laugh at and criticize believers's faith. They deny Jesus's very existence. Some of them even go to battle against Christians and Christianity. They may not be the religious leaders of biblical times, but they are cut from the same pattern.
The Pharisees watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem didn't get Jesus. They didn't see him as a Savior. They saw him as a troublemaker. Anyone who could gather crowds that large and that noisy had to be trouble. It was obvious to them they had to stop things before it got out of control. Their control.
"Teacher," they said to Jesus, "rebuke your disciples!" (v. 39)
In other words, tell the crowd to shut up! Tell them to stop acting like Jesus is someone worthy of being praised. Stop lifting your hands to heaven. Stop singing and shouting. Stop waving the palm branches. Go home and be quiet. Keep your religion to yourselves.
Sounds a little like today's world, doesn't it?
But Jesus IS worthy of being praised! He IS worthy of singing and shouting and palm branch waving. He IS worthy of people crowding around to see him and hear his voice. Because he IS God! And if the people didn't shout his praises, something else would.
"I tell you," Jesus replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (v. 40)
Let that sink in for a minute. Cold, hard, lifeless, bothersome rocks will cry out praises to God if we keep silent. The rocks here on the ranch. Mom's collection of rocks. Rocks all over the world. They will step in and do our job if we don't.
Jesus lived. He died. And He lives again. All because of His great love for you and me. He is more than worthy of our praise! So lift those hands! Shout that blessed name! Tell the world the Good News that Jesus saves!
Let's not let the rocks have all the fun.
Have a Blessed Easter as we celebrate our Risen Lord!
This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, Canada, Poland, Spain, Philippines