Sometimes, like a really surprising and delightful gift, we find a new insight into something we thought we already knew. It’s as if an unseen companion whispers to us “But, wait… have you not realised…. think a little more about this……” and then we find a new thought or a deeper understanding of an old thought, and the moment makes us chuckle aloud, or catch our breath, or stand still in a busy street, lost in wonder.
Here’s the thing that made me stand stock-still in awe this week (I may grope around a bit trying to explain it, so be patient). It’s something you will already know, but it won’t do any of us any harm to be amazed by it all over again. So, like I say, be patient with me:
Jesus the man knew what it was to live in total submission to the Divine, Jesus the man was totally one with God, filled with the Holy Spirit, perfect in his humanity and perfect in his divinity, perfect in submission to his future, his sacrifice. ‘Submission’ is a wonderful word to describe this moment – Christ was under his mission, sub-mission, and his mission was the Gospel, his mission was to show the love of God by dying for humanity, and the power of God by defeating death.
As he rode a donkey’s colt towards Jerusalem, he was aware of the politics, of those who wanted him dead, and of their power and malice. His disciples and his brothers had warned him often enough and he knew at first hand how the Jewish leaders schemed and tried to trick him into what they would call blasphemy. As a good Jewish rabbi he knew the prophecies about those next few days, his death. As God he knew that he would be betrayed and killed. As man he knew that his mother and his friends would be distressed, lost, broken hearted. Jesus the man knew only too well what execution meant – the savagery of it, the brutal scorn, the blood and pain and the lingering agony. The mockery, the spitting, the jeers and the humiliation. He had seen many crucifixions – the common currency of Roman power in that occupied territory.
That day, as he rode towards his death, we can have little understanding of the emotions and thoughts and prayers that must have crowded his mind. All around him were his followers – a motley crew of vagabonds and shepherds, samaritans, healed cripples, cured lepers, those who had begged for years, the once-mad, the tax collectors and, of course, some pious men and women who had waited for the Messiah faithfully and saw now that Jesus was indeed the fulfilment of all that had been promised…. and I’m sure that alongside and mixed in with these disciples was a great crowd of needy, noisy, misfits. Like the very worst English football fans, a mob of fickle rabble-rousers, hotheads, ready to shout his praise one day and bay for his blood the next. No wonder the religious leaders were offended by all the enthusiasm and clamour.
Luke tell us that ‘ When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices 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!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
When I’ve read that in the past I’ve read on, unthinking. But this last week or so the words of Jesus have taken on a whole new depth and reality for me. If that noisy mob had fallen silent, if his disciples had stopped claiming him as Messiah, would his story have been lost? Would he have slipped into history unnoticed? No, because Jesus knew, even as he was facing the terrors of torture and death, that this was the greatest story that will ever be told. He understood as both a man and as God that this was a story of triumph and joy, that as he rode to pain and disgrace he rode to glory.
I think that as Jesus said those words “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” there was laughter in his voice, there was energy and defiance in his words, restrained excitement… this was it.. this was it… in a few short days the story would be done…. bring it on!! There was more than submission and obedience, there was the joy of submission, the power of obedience. Those words were a declaration of the power of the Gospel, that it cannot be silenced.
It cannot be silenced. After two thousand years or a million thousand years, it cannot be silenced. The stones will cry out. What a triumph! What an amazing heart stopping, mind blowing triumph!
Go, Jesus, go! Tell ’em! If every single one of your disciples falls silent, the stones will cry out.
I suppose that’s what we are trying to do, isn’t it? We’re telling the story, singing the praise, shouting out in adoration, because it’s a story that can’t be silenced. And even when it’s just too glorious for words, and we’re lost and dazed and unable to voice his goodness, no worries, Luce, because the stones DO cry out… they do! The sea praises him, the sky, the hills, the air we breathe…
Psalm 19:1-4 (TPT)
God’s splendour is a tale that is told,
written in the stars.
Space itself speaks his story
through the marvels of the heavens.
His truth is on tour in the starry vault of the sky,
showing his skill in creation’s craftsmanship.
Each day gushes out its message to the next,
night by night whispering its knowledge to all—
without a sound, without a word, without a voice being heard,
yet all the world can hear its echo.
I can hear its echo. Can you?