A few thoughts on Palm Sunday… What if Jesus had made the people stop praising him? This piece delves into that eventuality.
If this post does well here, I will post more of my devotions and videos here as well.
Thoughts on Palm Sunday (Luke 19:37-40, TPT)
As soon as he got to the bottom of the Mount of Olives, the crowd of his followers shouted with a loud outburst of ecstatic joy over all the mighty wonders of power they had witnessed. They shouted over and over, “Highest praises to God for the one who comes as King in the name of the Lord! Heaven’s peace and glory from the highest realm now comes to us!”
Some Jewish religious leaders who stood off from the procession said to Jesus, “Teacher, order your followers at once to stop saying these things!”
Jesus responded, “Listen to me. If my followers were silenced, the very stones would break forth with praises!”
As we look at Palm Sunday again this year, I ask that you would highlight something in this passage for us. Let us see something in this familiar narrative that we might have missed in the past. Thank you, Lord. Come and embody the text for us, Holy Spirit. Amen.
As the people hailed him publically, as king and Messiah, the powers-that-were got nervous. They were, on one hand, scared of what the Romans would do if the people really tried to make Jesus a literal, political king. They didn’t want to see another insurrection and a violent smack down from Rome. On the other, they were scared that they were losing power over the people who had had their leadership inflicted on them for generations. So as the Hosanna’s were happening, they told Jesus to shut the crowd up. They didn’t want blood in the streets, nor did they want to see Jesus supplant them, as they hated him for standing up to them, anyway. So what was the deal with his response? Was he being literal, or just figuratively saying that there would be no way for him to shut them up? I think he was being literal, because as the Son of God, in that moment, if humans ceased praising him, the earth itself would have cried out in some literal, audible way. I know that literal interpretations are not “sophisticated”, but these people were not sophisitcated, for the most part. Not saying that metaphors would have been wasted on them, but the blunt and literal is hard to escape, in terms of meaning, right? So, let’s imagine if the crowd would have been silenced… first, there would have been a stillness, then a clattering, as the vibrations of praise died away… it would have been, at first, a clattering, but then the stones’ actual voices would’ve been amplified in some way so that all the humans could’ve heard them praising Jesus. All would have heard the very rocks lifting up their voices to proclaim the King of Kings. However, that was not the purpose of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday was about the People recognizing him, even over the objections of the powers that masqueraded as their leaders. The People were done with Rome. They wanted freedom, and would follow anyone that they percieved to be genuine in desiring and might be able to lead them to that goal. High taxes, oppressive military occupation with ancient enemies in the garrisons throughout Judea and the surrounding areas, and just being ruled by people who do not believe in YHWH… this was all too much, and formed a powder keg that would only take a spark to set off. Jesus never personally made those signals, even though he was very cognizant of fulfilling Prophesy regarding Messiah, but He was not about earthly politics or religion. He came to teach us how to reconnect with God, to commune with God… to tabernacle with God, if you will. But I digress… the stones would have been audible in the worship that they already were giving to God for Jesus. They do have voices. They are alive. Most of us cannot hear because we have been conditioned and taught that they do not and are not, respectively. We are programmed to believe that rocks are inanimate. They are not.