On January 26th, 1988, I had the opportunity to be on Sydney harbor for Australia’s Bicentennial celebration. It marked 200 years since the arrival of the First Fleet of British convict ships in Sydney in 1788. If you know any Aussies, they’ll tell you they take great national pride in their convict roots and celebrate accordingly. There were parades, flags, tall ships in the harbor, and thousands of people everywhere.
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was something like that. Passover was a great celebration of Israel’s history, commemorating the great Exodus from Egypt. The population of Jerusalem, usually around 50,000, more than doubled to as many as 120,000 or more. The talk of a “Messiah” or “Deliverer” sparked the hope of deliverance from the hated Gentile occupiers and had whipped some in the crowd into a frenzy of national pride. They waved the closest thing they could find to a flag – a palm branch – a sign of Jewish nationalism. Expectations and emotions were running high. They shouted, “Save us NOW! Save us NOW!” We know this phrase as “Hosanna, Hosanna!” Luke 19:37 tells us that his disciples, “…began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen…” Jesus said the to the Pharisees when they rebuked him for letting his disciples rejoice, “I tell you if these were silent, the very stones would cry out!”
And, very soon, they would be silent… On his way into the city, Jesus paused and wept over it. He’d already told his disciples that he would die. He knew the crowd would change their tune. He knew the fickle nature of a mob. The cries of “Hosanna” would so quickly turn to screams of “Crucify!” Those disciples around him would desert him, deny him, and disappear.
Why? Because the “Anointed One” turned out not to be what they thought he’d be. He didn’t come mounted on a war horse, but on a donkey. He didn’t have a mighty army behind him, but a rag-tag group of disciples who looked confused, disorganized, and dis-unified. This Christ didn’t speak of an earthly kingdom ruled by power and authority, but of a heavenly kingdom where the meek would inherit the earth and the first would be last.
So, when do the “rocks cry out”? Peter, the “Rock”, put it this way, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4,5) Yes, stones really can cry out. When we come to him, the living stone, he creates new life within us and builds us up together into a house of worship for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! As citizens of His kingdom, we gather with those from every other tribe, tongue, nation and give Him and Him alone, praise!
All Hail King Jesus!
P.S. This Sunday we’ll hear from our friend Pastor Jorge from Havana Cuba as he shares about our recent Valley Church team that visited there! (No he didn’t bring the band this time! Sorry!)