Listen to the Stones
Do you believe that stones, everyday rocks, actually have voices? Have you ever stopped to listen? I stubbed my toe on this question while reading a familiar passage in the Bible describing the event that we've come to call "Palm Sunday."
In Luke 19, Jesus makes his triumphal entry atop a donkey into Jerusalem, while the crowds wave palm branches, shout Hosannas and cheer, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" In the Pharisees' disdain of what they perceive to be his fake Messiahship, they order Jesus to tell the disciples to be quiet. Jesus replies in verse 40, "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
How exactly do stones cry out?
Just as I would rub a stubbed toe, I ran my thoughts over this question and wondered.
God used stones throughout the story of his work and love for his people. Two rough-hewn stones carried ten chiseled commandments to tell us how to live. Stones of remembrance piled in the Jordan River reminded generations of God's provision and faithfulness. Five smooth stones clutched in a shepherd boy's pouch, prepared to take out a giant. Countless stones shaped a temple where God would place his presence on the planet.
Oh, and one enormous stone rolled before an occupied tomb, encasing a corpse for three days until it was rolled away, releasing us from death's grip once and for all.
"If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
Perhaps Jesus meant that his love is so unconditional and overwhelming that if human voices fail, the most ordinary objects of the earth would be compelled to shout his praise? Could it be that Jesus is saying that even if we ignore God's historically documented method of revealing himself to us in the Bible - God born in a manger as a baby, miraculous healings of the blind and the deaf, prophecies fulfilled, testimonies of lives changed - God will cry out that he is God through any means possible, even stones? Maybe Jesus is simply referring to creation's role in revealing God's reality in our world? Even if we, created in his image, are cold to him, the stones that he created will cry out to their creator.
All of the above?
Yes. Plus this: God's love will be revealed. If I fail to speak of it, if you hold back from acknowledging it, if all the messy circumstances around us scream that God is gone, God's love will still be revealed. We can't shut it up. The very stones in our days will cry out.
To what will I listen?
In so many ways, my human voice fails to acknowledge Jesus as Jesus. I listen to the lies of his absence in my days and nights. I strain to hear him only as I expect him to come, swooping in on a white horse to rescue me from life's brokenness. And I realize that in so much of my life, I'm listening for the wrong thing.
Listen to the stones. The one rolled into place to contain a corpse is the very same one rolled away to release it. I hear the cry of this very stone as it rolls through my being, "I am the resurrection and the life."