In reading Luke’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Lk. 19:29-40), we see not only the jubilant, worshipful response of the disciples to Jesus, but also the Pharisees inappropriate response and request for them to be silent. Though stated with the religious weight of the experts on the law, their response and request revealed both their spiritual deadness and spiritual blindness. In fact, true worship of Jesus, the Messiah and King, cannot be negated. Even if human beings would have been silent, the stones would have cried out.
Here are a few thoughts, comments and applications.
First, Jesus is the agent of creation, which means all has been created through him and for him (Col. 1:16; Rev. 4:11). Although not all recognize his Lordship at present, all will at some point in the future (Phil. 2:9-11). Even creation at present groans, including stones, longing to be set free from its bondage to corruption (Rom. 8:18-23). This is an eschatological statement of what will happen. And amazingly, Christ’s resurrection means that this eschatological reality is not only future, but is present, and through faith in Christ that eschatological end-time truth is experienced now in the present. It certainly awaits an future day, but it is also experienced in the present-day.
Second, Jesus is also the Redeemer which means he is to be worshipped. It is fitting and appropriate to worship the king who brings peace. For who Christ is and what he has done, his words “it is finished” (Jn. 19:30), the last words uttered on the cross, are completed by some of his first words spoken after the resurrection, “Peace be with you” (Jn. 20:21). In other words, the peace Jesus offers is accomplished through the cross. This means peace is first and foremost “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) and then, secondly, peace with others (Eph. 2:14-16).
Third, more specifically to this incident, in asking Jesus to silence the disciples from praising and worshipping him would have been asking them to respond inappropriately to him. He is the Messiah, the king, the one who brings peace. The Pharisees are, whether they realize it or not, asking Jesus to renounce who he is.
Fourth, it is impossible to squelch praise and worship of the Messiah, the king. Even if Jesus were to silence the disciples, which he would not do, even the stones would cry out. The stones cry reflects two truths. Not only would they cry out in praise and worship of their Maker, the Lord Jesus Christ, but they would also cry out in judgment (cf. Hab. 2:1) against the Pharisees who attempted to silence the appropriate response to the Jesus (cf. Lk. 3:8, where John says “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”)
Fifth, Jesus’ person and presence generate a response, and it requires an appropriate response. Silencing Jesus or disciples will not negate that he is the king nor will it negate God’s purposes. The response will manifest the person’s true condition.
Sixth, since no one remains exempt from responding to Christ, there are only two responses: one of praise and worship, the other of silence. As aptly concluded by C. S. Lewis, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’”
Finally, and in sum, there is “deep irony” in Jesus’ response. “In an ardent refusal to stop the messianic confession of his followers,” concludes Darrell Bock (Luke, vol. 2, 1560), “he says that if they ceased, creation would cry out in testimony to him. Creation is aware of Jesus but the leadership of the nation is not. That which is lifeless knows life when it sees it, even though that which is living does not. Luke portrays their rejection as a tragic, stinging indictment of their lack of judgment.”