"And he answered and said to them, 'If these were to remain silent the very stones would cry out." --Luke 19:40

Certain Pharisees, when they heard the crowd of his followers shouting and singing these lines based on Psalm 118, 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest,' urged Jesus to silence them. This was his reply: "If these folk were silent the stones would shout out."

Jesus lets us know that the events of Holy Week concerning himself encompasses all of reality, the human, the spiritual the divine and the natural.  These events in the life of this one man are infinitely significant for all existing things, for flesh, for spirit, and for stone.

Because we love Jesus and are part of the church I don’t think that we stop to consider how odd it is that a great religion like ours is so minutely concerned with the experience of one single human being. We dote on his every word and mark his every movement, and find the one truth in him. His words are solid gold and his works are the works of God. I do not apologize for this in any way.  In fact in my sermons I try to make a point that it is in fact all about Jesus.  All our hope lives in this one man, Jesus.

Let us look at the historical context for
this text. This is the first day of the festival of Passover and pilgrims are entering Jerusalem from all over the world in great numbers. As they climbed up the hill to the temple the disciples of Jesus sang not a Psalm of Ascent as was the custom but instead they sang the Psalm of the rejected stone who became the chief cornerstone: "The stone which the builders rejected/ has become the head of the corner. / This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. / This is the day, which the Lord has made;/ Let us rejoice and be glad in it. / Save us, we beseech thee, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech thee, give us success. / Blessed is he who enters in the name of the Lord! / We bless you from the house of the Lord! (Psalm 118: 22-26).

The Gospel tells us that God has made the rejected stone to be the precious stone, and those who know this sing, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" This means literally that the humble Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and not a warhorse, is rejected and humiliated now but will be King of Kings. The traditional Messiah is expected on a warhorse in glory attended by troops and angels, the real Messiah comes on a donkey attended by clueless disciples and riff-raff. There is a pertinent prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-10, quoted by Matthew (21:5), "Lo, your king comes to you;/ triumphant and victorious is he,/ humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass/…and he shall command peace to the nations.' Clearly the Gospel tradition remembers that Jesus entered Jerusalem as the Messianic king - indicated by the fact that he rode and did not like all the other pilgrims walk - but in view of what happened to him there they interpreted this symbolic act by means of Psalm 118 and Zechariah 9 to mean a deeply different understanding of God's definitive intervention by means of
Jesus entry.

It is one thing to understand what the Gospel message is and how it was composed by Christian scribes on the basis of the OT text and the historical events they sought to understand, it is another to accept the interpretation as true. Can we believe that in the actions of this one man reality itself is disclosing itself to us? The true power of
creation that permeates and preserves all things came in the person of Jesus that the gospel writers want to present as glorious and powerful, but in order to remain true to history, to what actually happened, must present him as a rejected stone and a humble caricature of a king, on a donkey. Can we accept this deeply ironic scene to be the opposite of what we expect?

The answers to that question is deeply private.  For me when I say that I can see in the paradox of Palm Sunday the truth about all things, and especially how the world is turned upside down, so that the weak appears strong and
what looks like strength is proved to be powerless.  I believe that this paradox reveals reality  as symbolized by the rejected stone and the humble donkey. Look through these ironic symbols and see the world turned right side up.  See the revolution of the spirit in which the things despised become at last and again the things distinguished, elegant, desirable and true; when Jesus comes into his kingdom. 

The palm Sunday picture of jesus is one of the most vivid in all the gospels.  So
I ask you to admire it and meditate upon it.  As I absorb the experience the Jesus of history discloses to me the truth about the world.  It gives me the salvation that restores me to health in this upside down world where what is first will be last and what is last will become first. 

 

Looking at Jesus I see a light that is down the road another week.  Then we will all see the Resurrection which makes clear the outcome of our upside-down world. Blessed is the lowly king who comes to me riding on a donkey! Am I wise enough at last to see in this rejected stone the pearl beyond price? Yes Lord, Yes!

1.     Why are we so absolutely focused in our expression of our religion by the one man Jesus?

2.     All the people who saw Jesus were looking for a messianic king including the disciples. What are we looking for instead?

3.     When you gaze at Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday what do you see?