The Singing Stones

Palm Sunday is tomorrow (today if you read this after midnight). It’s the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the fanfare of, you know, donkey, palm branches, hosanna and so forth. The story is two thousand years old and, even though the sacred words of Scripture have been read and preached on a million times, there is still one part of the story of which I have yet to get a good understanding. It’s this simple phrase of Jesus:

“I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Singing stones? Oh yeah. I like. Here’s the context in Luke 19:

As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Most preachers choose to ignore the statement for reasons I don’t understand. They usually dismiss it as hyperbole, a figure of speech that Jesus sometimes used to make a point. Maybe they’re right. But I think it’s more. Can inanimate objects produce animate actions? Can stones speak? Does a rolling stone gather no moss? Sorry. Got carried away. Here’s what Scripture says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)

So the heavens speak? Inanimate objects producing animated actions. If the heavens speak, why not stones?

Here’s why I’m fascinated by this statement of Jesus. If He is the creator of all things, including stars and stones, then everything He has made bears His divine fingerprint. Everything exists by His creative will and everything ceases to go away by the same will. Therefore, the stones of Jerusalem were His property, owing their existence to the will of the one riding the donkey. If the heavens and earth sing forth praise, how do we know that the stones don’t do the same?

Here’s where science and spirit disagree. Science (pure science) says that something exists if it is physically provable. If we can hear it, see it, feel, it, etc., then it’s real. Science cannot prove the spiritual realm, however. It cannot listen to the stars sing or hear the stones. They speak on some other level — beyond the reach of science — that God can hear. Even if the disciples stopped praising Jesus that Palm Sunday, I believe that the Creator would still hear praise. He always hears praise. Always. If not from the mouths of men, then from the mouths of suns, stars and stones. God will always be praised.

Jesus may have been using hyperbole to some extent but behind that statement is a very deep truth. Paul wrote that God’s invisible qualities are made known through the things He has made (Rom 1:18-20). They point mankind towards His greatness and care. If the disciples hadn’t rendered Jesus praise, the stones would have started. Even if we couldn’t hear them, they’d still be singing.

Singing stones. Very cool. Happy Palm Sunday!

— John