"If these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
Luke 19:28-48 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
After He had said these things, He was going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
29 When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. 37 As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, 38 shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
45 Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbers’ den.”
47 And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, 48 and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said.
In Psalm 150, the psalmist exhorts us saying: Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! In today’s text Jesus affirms that we should praise the Lord, saying: “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” In truth, it is only us, people, who among all of creation, have a choice. All of creation responds in obedience and worship to and of God. The sun, the moon and the stars are all in their designated places. Every living creature, from the least to the greatest does what it was created to do. Only people can choose whether or not they will be obedient to and offer praise to God. The psalmist says we should praise Him for His mighty deeds. That too is what those in today’s text were doing. It says: The whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen. We too should praise Him for the things He has done. We should praise Him for His mighty deeds and for all the miracles we have seen.
Some though will say what miracles? What mighty deeds has God done in our time? Our streets are filled with poverty and violence. Injustice and inequality abound. Why would a good and loving God cause or allow the tragedies we see and hear about every day? Why should we praise Him? Psalm 18:3 says: I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised. Psalm 96:4 says: Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised. Psalm 145 says: Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. Regardless of what we see or we do not see, God is good. He is great and He is worthy of praise. We should not, we cannot rightfully impute the tragedies of human kind against the goodness and the worthiness of God. The same free will which allows us to be those who can choose whether we will obey, worship and praise Him, is the reason for all the evil, injustice and tragedies we see in the world around us. Those things are the result of human choice. They are the result of the free will of man, not the lack of goodness of God. John 3:16-19 says: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That alone is a mighty deed worth praising God for, that Jesus died for our sins. It continues though saying: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” The choice is for every individual. We can choose to praise God because He is good, because He is worthy, we can, as the psalmist says in Psalm 29:2: Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness or, we can choose darkness over light, evil over good. We can praise God for His mighty deeds or we can blame Him for the evil of man.
In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah saw a vision in heaven. In verses 1-3 it says: In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” When we look from the perspective of earth, it can be difficult at times to see the goodness and the glory of God. It can be difficult to ascribe glory to God in the midst of the darkness around us. If we could and would instead see from the perspective of heaven, if we would see the whole earth as it looks from heaven, we would see as the seraphim saw. We would see that the whole earth is filled with the glory of God. Jesus taught us that we should pray: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. To be those who help to facilitate the coming of the will and the kingdom of God here on earth as it is in heaven; we must first see the earth from the perspective of heaven. We must see the glory of God, even in the midst of the evil of man.
Surely all of creation is obedient to and praises the Lord. We alone have a choice. As for me, I will not allow any stone to cry out in my place. I will, as the psalmist says: Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! Amen.