Luke 19:37-40 – When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. They said, “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”
As a child and young adult growing up, I was a huge professional wrestling fan. Along with Ric Flair and a few others, one of my favorite wrestlers was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, now of Hollywood fame. I liked “The Rock” mostly because of his commanding presence in the ring when he spoke. Like my favorite wrestler, Ric Flair, The Rock had the ability to captivate an audience simply by talking.
The Rock would always enter the arena to a guitar-driven song in which the lyrics would say,“What The Rock says, what The Rock says!” The crowd would go wild as he stood cock-eyed in the middle of the wrestling ring. The crowd would hang on his every word as they tuned in each week to see what indeed “The Rock” would say. For the wrestling fan, it was an electrifying moment when the mic would rise to his lips and the words would begin to flow.
That being said, there is a part of my life where I don’t want to find out what “The Rock” would say, nor do I want to give “The Rock” any opportunity to speak on my behalf. In this case, I’m not referring to professional wrestling, but instead, to corporate worship.
In each of the Gospels in Scripture, we meet Jesus, as He has just ridden into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, fulfilling the age-old prophecies about Himself. This is the event which believers in the Church historically celebrate as Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday ushers in one of the biggest weeks on the Christian Calendar each year. We call this week Holy Week. It all leads to the big and momentous day, Easter Sunday, where believers in Jesus gather to celebrate His Resurrection and victory over death and sin.
As Jesus rides in, the crowd is going wild, cheering for Him and praising Him for all His miracles. They have chopped off palm branches from the palm trees in the immediate vicinity, and along with their outer garments, they have laid them on the road before Him. It was their way of rolling out the red carpet and making every attempt at making this a majestic and regal event.
Though many of them would soon reject Him, I’ve always marveled at their passion and “spare no expense” approach to this moment of worship for Jesus. It makes me wonder how different our Church worship experiences would be if everyone came with this same type of approach to worship the Savior each week. Their intensity to maximize the moment before them in worship definitely got the attention of those around them. It’s very likely if we took the same approach, it would also get the attention of those we’re trying to reach in our communities.
The Scriptures tell us they were so moved and animated because of all the miracles they had seen take place at the hands of Jesus. This rugged band of believers had been witness to such astounding acts as the raising of Lazarus, the healing of blind Bartimaeus, and many other works in the ministry of Christ. They had felt and experienced the impact of the life and work of Jesus. Their worship was a response to the great work of Christ in their lives. True worship always understands its intent and motivation. It is never just simply random, routine, or ritual. It is a response to God’s great mercies. It begs the question, if the Gospel writer Luke were to record our response in worship, what would the ink on the pages say about our reply to the great mercies of God in our lives? What does our worship say about Jesus to others? Would they be attracted to Him simply by what they see in us?
Right on cue, several self-righteous and prideful Pharisees chime in and tell Jesus to shut His people down. Only Luke records this interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees. Luke’s entry fittingly encapsulates the varied responses to Jesus in worship. Those who are most intimate with Him will always respond with passion. It’s the only fitting option. Others are open, but with a little discomfort and limited understanding. Others are simply hostile to anything that threatens their position, status, or comfort.
Jesus brilliantly responds to their criticism by saying, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the rocks would burst into cheers!” A literal rock, crying out in fanfare? If this seems far-fetched to us, we need only look to the moment when Jesus was hanging on the cross, and the earth shook and went dark. Jesus understands, even if His followers are silent, then an inanimate creation will take up the song. Strangely, even inanimate objects of creation can be more in tune and responsive to the epic moments of worship that accompany the Kingship of Jesus, than His followers. Are there any rocks shaking simply because our pride or fear won’t allow us to burst into cheers for the One who saved us?
The Bible actually tells us in John 4:23-24 that God is seeking our worship. Did you know that God is seeking your worship? Actually, Greek word used here can also mean “demands” or “requires.” Sadly, many who come to worship come with no expectation or give little thought to their response to God in worship. We usually come to pay our respects, check it off, and move on to the next event in the day. But the Bible says that God is looking for true worshipers who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” “Spirit and truth” essentially means “The right attitude” (Spirit) with “The right information (Truth).
We have the right information of Truth in His Word. We’ve seen and experienced the miracles of salvation and God’s daily mercies in our lives. This provides the platform for the right attitude (submission to His Spirit) in our passionate responses to those mercies.
If the earth and the walls are going to shake, then let it not be because the worshipers of Jesus have fallen in line with the stoic and rigid approach of the Pharisees. If it shakes, let it be because those who have experienced the miracles and mercies of Jesus have poured all their energy into the monumental moment that is corporate worship. Lift your voice, sing and shout! Roll out the red carpet and behold the King! Rocks, no need to cry out today! There’s a redeemed and saved, former wretch who’s doing just fine bringing the praise!