This coming Sunday, many Christians will celebrate Palm Sunday to mark Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; and John 12. The phrase “triumphal entry” connotes something like a military parade after a great victory of war. It was, rather, something like what had been prophesied in Zechariah 9:9 (NIV): “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you…lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” No chariots. No warhorses. A victory, but a victory of peace. A king, not of this world, but of the Spirit.
So when Jesus’s admission to Jerusalem occurred, the king was indeed riding a donkey. The people spread their cloaks and palm branches on the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem. There was joyful celebration by the disciples, not for a successful military campaign or the crowning a worldly king, but “for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37-38, NIV)
This event played right into the ongoing dispute between the Pharisees and Jesus as to the true identity of Jesus. “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!'” (Luke 19:39) How dare they call you a king. What’s more, they’re saying that you are a king blessed by God. As we’ve told you before, set them straight.
Jesus responded with one of the most faithful, stunning statements in all of scripture. “I tell you…if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) This is part of the culmination of God’s plan for the world. You don’t have to call me God’s king. Even my disciples don’t have to say that. But my coming death and resurrection are God’s salvation to all people, and it’s so powerful that, if necessary, the stones will cry out with that message.
Christians are often emboldened by Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday–only to have the Christian temerity that the Lenten Season brings become weak as time goes on. While we should try to avoid this result, if it happens, the stones will still cry out.