Why Even the Rocks Will Cry Out (Luke 19:40)

Why Even the Rocks Will Cry Out (Luke 19:40)

At the triumphal entry Jesus’s “disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice” (Luke 19:37). The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples” (Luke 19:40). Jesus responded, “I tell you, if these were silent, even the rocks will cry out.” This was the one and only time that Jesus permitted a public demonstration on his behalf. On this day there would be no silencing the welcoming of the Son of David, Israel’s king.

When I was in Army ROTC at Florida Tech there was an ITT (individual tactical training) course You’ve probably seen courses like this in movies that depict basic training, or if you’ve been in the military you’ve probably been on courses like this multiple times. Unlike other obstacle courses, which teams typically go through together to build teamwork – think of soldiers helping each other over walls – ITT courses are performed individually. Hence the word individual in the acronym.

ITT courses include numerous obstacles that involve running, climbing, swinging, balancing, high crawling, low crawling, jumping, dropping, and sometimes swimming. You move from one obstacle to the next as quickly as possible with soldiers yelling that you are moving too slowly and need to pick it up…regardless of how fast you are going.

The entire course is laid out for you. You don’t get to decide whether to go left or right. You can’t skip any obstacles or do them out of order. You move from one to the next in the order laid out for you.

Even the Rocks Will Cry Out, Because Jesus Was Following a Divine Timeline

A you read the gospels, you might notice that Jesus’ ministry seemed like this. He moved from one event (or obstacle) to the next in the order laid out for him by God the Father. Listen to Jesus describe his ministry this way:

  • John 5:30 “I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
  • John 6:38 “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
  • Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus was describing the course that was before him. At least once he even described his earthly ministry as a course:

Luke 13:32 “Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.”

Jesus didn’t get to decide whether to go left or right. He didn’t get to skip obstacles or do them out of order. He moved from one obstacle to the next.

There Was a Time to Be Silent

Let me show you some examples from Jesus’s life. In Mark 1:40-42 Jesus cleanses a leper. Then:

Mark 1:43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.

It is surprising that Jesus told this man not to tell anyone about the miracle. Why would he do that?

One reason is it wasn’t time for the people to recognize Jesus was the Messiah. That might sound odd, but he was following the divine timeline set by His Father.

Another reason is large amounts of publicity would hinder Jesus’s mission and divert public attention from his message to his miracles. He wanted to continue teaching ministry in an uninhibited way. He needed to be able to move around easily. If people knew about his miracles, he would be swarmed by so many people he would be unable to enter towns where he could preach. This is exactly what happened because this man disobeyed him.

Unfortunately, the man did the exact opposite of what Jesus asked: he talked to everyone but the priests. You can see the problems it caused. Before Jesus cleansed the man he was able to minister in the town. But after the man told everyone, Jesus was forced “out in desolate places” where there were fewer people for him to reach.

You could ask, why did Jesus perform miracles if it was going to hinder his ministry? First, because he loved people and he wanted to help them. But more importantly, they served as signs that he was the Messiah.

Beginning at Mark 5:21 Jesus raises Jairus’s daughter from the dead. Then he said to feed her, but not tell anyone:

Mark 5:43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

In Mark 7:31 Jesus healed the def man. Then:

Mark 7:36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

Jesus healed the blind man, but not in the middle of the village because of the commotion it would cause. Jesus entered the village, and then brought the blind man out of the village to heal him:

Mark 8:22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”…26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Jesus told him not to return to the village, because more than likely everyone knew the blind man, and when they learned Jesus healed him, Jesus would be mobbed by the crowds:

Luke 9:18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Lots of people were getting this wrong. Seems like people thought Jesus was everyone except the Christ: John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other prophets raised from the dead. But Peter got it right. This is one of those times he opened his mouth and hit a home run. Of course, Jesus is going to say, “Great, now go tell everyone the truth. Straighten them out because they have no idea who I am.” Nope:

Luke 9:21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Jesus told them not to tell anyone he was the Christ! Something similar happened right after the Transfiguration:

Matthew 17:9 Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

Jesus told them not to tell anyone about seeing Jesus in his glory, for the same reason he said not to tell everyone he’s the Christ. He knew it would cause problems. Most people, including even the disciples, didn’t know what Jesus was going to do as the Messiah. They thought he would be a conquering king who would sit on a throne. The transfiguration would further this view. They didn’t know he was a suffering Servant who would hang on a cross. If they didn’t understand Jesus’s first coming, they couldn’t talk to people about Jesus, because it would increase the confusion about who he was…they would almost be unintentional false teachers!

Imagine if they said, “We saw the Coming King transfigured. He’ll be on the throne of David any day now!” How confused would people feel when he was crucified instead? So, Jesus says, “Be quiet for now. After my resurrection, when it’s clear I would die, then you can preach about me!”

There Was a Time “Even Rocks Will Cry Out”

At the triumphal entry the religious leaders completely resented the outpouring of praise:

Luke 19:38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”

When we read the word “disciples” we typically think of the 12 disciples. But it is important to know that disciple means student or follower, which is why we also read that John the Baptist and the Pharisees had disciples. When the Pharisees said this they weren’t referring to only the 12 disciples. They were referring to all the people who were recognizing Jesus as the King coming in the name of the Lord.

There are two possible reasons the Pharisees told Jesus to silence the crowd versus trying to silence the crowd themselves. One possibility is Jesus was so popular the Pharisees didn’t dare trying to silence the crowd themselves. The other possibility is they knew they could not silence the crowd, because it was too large and enthusiastic. So they went directly to Jesus and told him to silence them.

After Jesus fed the 5,000 he became incredibly popular. So popular that:

John 6:15 Perceiving that they were about to…take [Jesus] by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Jesus came to become king. That’s what he wanted. Why would he not let them make him king? He was following the timeline. This wasn’t his coronation. But the triumphal entry was, so:

Luke 19:40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

This was the one and only time that Jesus permitted a public demonstration on his behalf. This is the exact opposite of every situation we read about earlier. Instead of hiding, escaping, or silencing there is no hiding or escaping, and there is even a declaration there can’t be silence. If there was silence, “even the rocks will cry out.”

On this day there would be no silencing the welcoming of the Son of David, Israel’s king. The time has finally arrived for everyone to be talking about it. Nothing is going to take away from this day.

Here’s what else I think is going on. Earlier Jesus didn’t want the news to spread because it would prevent him from entering towns. But there are no more towns to enter. He has entered the last one: Jerusalem. He’s approaching the very end of the course.

There Was a Time to Die

When Jesus returned to Nazareth the people expected him to perform the same miracles in his hometown that they heard about him performing elsewhere:

Luke 4:23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”

When Jesus told the people he wouldn’t be performing miracles in Nazareth, because of their unbelief, they were not happy about it:

Luke 4:28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

For a moment, picture what this looked like. They brought Jesus to the top of a hill so they could throw him down. He has a cliff on one side and the crowd on the other. But somehow he was able to maneuver through the people to avoid a premature death. Here are two other examples:

John 8:59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

I can’t imagine how angry you must be to want to throw people off a cliff or stone them, but that’s how angry people were with Jesus. They were in the temple. I can’t imagine there were many places to hide. But Jesus was able to escape.

John 10:31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him…39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

Jesus escaped each time for two reasons.

  1. His time had not yet come to die. He hadn’t reached that obstacle on the course yet.
  2. This is not how the Father determined he would die. He would die on a cross, not falling off a cliff or stoned in the temple.

Jesus was busy with his ministry when he was warned of a death threat:

Luke 13:31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

There are lots of Herods in the Gospels. This is Herod Antipas, the king of Judea, who killed Jesus’s cousin, John the Baptist. In other words, Jesus knew he was more than capable of murder. Jesus’s response isn’t what you’d expect from someone afraid of dying.

Jesus was going to continue his course, and he knew nobody could stop him, not even Herod. Apparently Jesus wanted Herod to know that. He could have simply disregarded the counsel and quietly continued on his way, but he wanted Herod to know that he wasn’t afraid of him. So, Jesus told the messengers to go back and deliver that message to Herod. It is as though Jesus said, “I am going to continue doing what I’m doing until the third day when I’m resurrected and that’s when my course is complete. Nobody is going to stop me from going to the cross, dying, being buried, and resurrected.”

Jesus Repeatedly Said, “My Hour Has Not Yet Come”

Notice the repetition of Jesus saying his hour had not come. At the wedding at Cana they ran out of wine:

John 2:3 When the wine ran out, [Mary said], “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

Mary wanted Jesus to perform a miracle. Jesus was going to perform miracles, so why not now? Because this meant getting the events out of order. This had him performing a miracle before it was time.

John 7:30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.

This means his hour to be arrested and crucified.

John 8:20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Jesus Finally Said His Hour Had Come

The triumphal entry is in John 12:12-19. Right after it:

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (see also John 13:1 and John 17:1).

It is a fascinating analogy: just as a seed is buried in the ground to bear fruit and bring forth life, so too will Jesus be buried in the ground to bear fruit and bring forth our eternal life.

Jesus repeatedly said his hour had not come. After the triumphal entry he said it had, because he’s in Jerusalem and he knows it is time for him to die.

The Triumphal Entry Ensured Jesus Would Die on Time

When we talk about Jesus being the Lamb, or the Lamb of God, we are specifically talking about him being the Passover Lamb:

1 Corinthians 5:7 Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

For Jesus to follow the divine timeline and be our Passover Lamb he had to be crucified on Passover. But there was a problem. Jesus needs to be crucified on Passover, but they wouldn’t arrest him until it was over.

Matthew 26:3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast (referring to Passover), lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Jesus repeatedly avoided death, but when his time came he made sure the timeline was followed. One of the reasons for the triumphal entry – or one of the reasons Jesus said, “There can’t be silence now,” – is because he had to actually speed up the religious leaders’ desire to murder him. To follow the divine timeline Jesus had to prevent being killed too early, and he had to prevent being killed too late.

[The praise Jesus received at the triumphal entry] was to force the Jewish religious leaders to act. They had hoped to arrest him after Passover, but God had ordained that His Son be slain on Passover. When they saw this great public celebration, the leaders knew they had to [arrest him].

Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament volume 1: Matthew-Galatians, page 254.

The triumphal entry deliberately evoked a demonstration. Jesus fully realized the enthusiasm of the masses would enrage the religious leaders so they would have even more reason to carry out their plot against him. It forced them to change their timetable so that it would harmonize with God the Father’s timetable for the crucifixion.

God Has a Course for Our Lives

The longer I’m a Christian the easier it is to see that God directs our steps and writes our story. We can’t always see it at the time, but we look back and it comes into focus. We see that God opened some doors and closed others. We see that we wanted things that God didn’t give us, and we didn’t want things that God did give us. Often, we can also see that it wouldn’t have been good for us if we got what we wanted, or we can see how it’s been good for us to get what we didn’t want.

Just as the God Father had a plan for Christ, He has a plan for us. Consider these verses so you recognize just how much of a theme this is in Scripture:

  • Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but THE LORD ESTABLISHES HIS STEPS.
  • Proverbs 20:24 A MAN’S STEPS ARE FROM THE LORD; how then can man understand his way?
  • Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that IT IS NOT IN MAN WHO WALKS TO DIRECT HIS STEPS. If man isn’t directing his steps then who is?
  • Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which GOD PREPARED BEFOREHAND, THAT WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM.

But there is a balance to this. We can’t blame God for sins we commit, or bad decisions we make. The man who walks out on his family can’t say the Lord directed his steps. The woman who walks into a bar can’t say the Lord directed her steps.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a man are established by the lord, when [the man] delights in [the Lord’s] way.

This verse strikes the balance. The Lord establishes our steps, when we delight in him. We must be like Jesus. He said, “Not my will, but let your will be done:” These people walk in the steps of the Lord. They fulfill the course God has for them. They recognize they are on divine timelines. They will be submitted to God and prayerfully seek how they can walk in the good works he has prepared beforehand.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please let me know. I do my best to respond to each comment.

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