Jesus said, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
In Luke’s Gospel, Jerusalem has been the goal all along. Jesus has been slowly making his way from the backwoods of Samaria and finally, finally, draws near. His arrival prompts the shouts of Hosanna and singing by some, scorn and derision by others.
Luke includes this rebuke of the Pharisees who respond to the mini-parade of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. I would imagine the ones quoted were not the only ones put off by the appearance of the homeless teacher and wonder worker. I suspect many more objected to his arrival—and the joyous response of the populace.
Throughout the Readings for Holy Week, Jesus always has the right response at the right moment. When told to order his disciples to stop, Jesus responds, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” I wonder how Jesus delivered this line? Was he stern, serious, arms crossed on his chest, eyes fixed on the Pharisees with defiance? Was he nonchalant, disinterested, hands on the reins of the donkey?
No, I think Jesus was playful. Parades bring out a playfulness, a mischievousness in both the paraders and the audience. He was aware of the game being played around him. He knew the mood and atmosphere of Jerusalem. With a wink, with a smirk, Jesus was letting his adversaries know that he was ready.
I also love the implication—if the disciples were silent, if Jerusalem was silent, nature itself would cry out and rejoice. Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem demands a response and a reaction. If the people kept silent, Nature would cry out.
I’ve always wondered about the stone. What kind of witnesses do stones make?
I can’t explain it. But I get it. I habitually pick up and take captive stones from the places I’ve been. I have stones from camps, from vacations, from lakes, from oceans, from mountains. They speak. The remember. They know.
That’s all that Jesus was saying with that wry smile and comic swagger. The stones know.