Palm Sunday, April 10 – “Even the Stones Cry Out”
View this recording of Palm Sunday, April 10, 2022.
Full to the Brim – Even the Stones Cry Out
Snippets from the sermon by Rev. Christina Kukuk.
“Our gospel story today starts out as a piece of truth-telling street theater. Today we might recognize it as a protest march.
It is Passover, the Jewish festival of liberation from slavery in Egypt; and as the tensions with powerful folks keep mounting, even though Jesus has made himself scarce in Jerusalem, he heads back into the city when all kinds of people will be gathered there for this feast, for the celebration, for this religious commemoration of God rescuing God’s people.
And he puts into motion a demonstration. If we pay attention to any of the details in any of the Gospel writer stories, we can tell that this is a planned demonstration.
Jesus tells us two of the disciples in today’s story to go ahead of him to the next village and there he’ll find a colt that has never been ridden; to untie it and bring it back to him and Jesus gives them code words so that the owners of the colt will know who is taking the colt.
This is a planned piece of public theater and with Jesus’s students, and friends, and supporters, on this borrowed colt which has never been ridden–a colt fit for royalty in other words–Jesus enters Jerusalem while his disciples throw their cloaks in the street, drawing attention to a play at a royal processional.
If you’ve been around here long you know that there’s a wider context to this royal processional, because it had been the case for a while now that, as Passover began, Rome would do a show of strength just to remind everybody who was still in charge, and usually that show of strength would be rows upon rows of military soldiers entering the city on the other side.
So this is parade of political commentary; it’s symbolic, and even though in Luke’s version there are neither hosanna’s nor palms, there are still people along the way shouting their testimony about God’s deeds of power and calling Jesus their king, not Caesar.
As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice, hear that– because they are making noise–because of all the mighty things they had seen, blessings on the King who comes in the name of our God, the God who is the holy one. Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest Heavens. That’s a quote from Psalm 118, a song of Victory, a song of crying out to God and God’s steadfast love enduring; a song in which the singer talks about nearly dying, but not, and praising God’s saving help.
The disciples are quoting this song of victory spiritual protest, and in political protest. We won’t die; we will live. And we will declare what the God who is has done.
Later in the Psalm, save us, which is what ‘Hosanna’ means. Oh God, Yahweh, Adoni, give us success. This is a triumphant song, a loud shout in the face of Caesar, and all of those who are enabling the rule of violence.
And along the way, as jesus’s disciples make this spectacle with him entering Jerusalem, there are also those people holding positions of relative power and security who do not want that security threatened by the truth this rabble might tell. It’s not that they don’t agree. They don’t say, Oh, that’s not true. They’re worried. They’re worried that this truth telling shouting in the streets is going to get squashed with violence and they tell Jesus to hush his disciples from within the crowd.
Some of the Pharisees who are in the crowd, they’re right there with Jesus. Maybe they’re even friends of Jesus they say tell your disciples to be quiet, and that’s when Jesus replies. If they were silent, the stones would cry out–even the stones cry out.”