Will the Stones Really Cry Out?

Reading: Luke 19:28–48

The scene is the “Triumphal Entry”. Jesus is on a donkey colt entering Jerusalem as people spread their cloaks on the road in front of him, joyfullly shouting praises to God, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:37-38) This declaration of Jesus as the king of Israel, the son of David, the One who comes in the name of the Lord, provoked a rebuke from the Pharisees.

39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

This statement by Jesus is the subject of some choruses and has brought about many statements about how we might see rocks singing the praises of Jesus if we don’t! Maybe… but, maybe not. Allow me to suggest that Jesus wasn’t saying that the stones will sing praises if the disciples stop singing them. You don’t even have to know Greek to see it; I’m talking about what your English translations say (just like the Greek). It doesn’t say the stones will sing praises if the disciples don’t.

What does it say? It says that if the disciples don’t joyfully shout these praises, the rocks will cry out. However, it does not say what they will cry out. To understand what Jesus means by the rocks crying out, I believe we must understand the background to this statement.

The first hint we have to anything like this comes in the 4th chapter of the Bible. Cain had taken the fleeting life of righteous Abel. The Lord declares to Cain, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) What was Abel’s blood crying out? It was crying out guilt – Cain’s guilt.

This particular incident gets mentioned later. Hebrews 12:24 tells us that we have come to the blood of Jesus which speaks “a better word than the blood of Abel.” Though Abel’s blood spoke of guilt, Jesus’ blood speaks of forgiveness! Both had fleeting lives; both were taken in the prime of life; both were unjustly killed by a jealous older brother (figuratively in Jesus’ case).

In Joshua 24, Joshua warns the people of Israel of what the Lord requires to serve Him, and what the consequences are of turning away from the Lord. They chose to serve the Lord, so Joshua set up a stone under an oak tree and said,

“See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.” (Jos 24:27)

The stone had been present when all the warnings were issued by Joshua; the stone heard the people’s commitment to serve the Lord. In the event that the people failed to keep the covenant they couldn’t deny that they had made the commitment for the stone was present. Therefore the stone could serve as a witness in a court case against the people if they failed to keep the covenant.

In Habakkuk 2:9-11 we read of the stones of a wall crying out against those who had, in their presence, made and plotted their greedy plans. Once again the stones hear and testify against those who did wrong in their presence. Of course, this all seems to be a figurative way of saying, “you will be brought to account for what you have done… and will not be able to deny it. These stones will serve as witnesses against you.”

When we arrive in Luke 19:40 I believe it is best to read this background into the statement Jesus makes. In other words, “If after seeing all these miracles and deeds I have done, no one shouts out praises and honors me as the Messianic King, your judgment is sure and the stones [possibly the stones of the temple where Jesus did some teaching], will cry out in judgment against this city!” This makes even more sense as we read what immediately follows (Luke 19:41-44 where stones are mentioned again). (See also Luke 21:6.)

When I read Luke 19:40 I don’t envision stones singing, I imagine stones witnessing the rejection of Christ by those who saw the miracles and deeds crying out guilt in the face of their impending judgment. May we respond and sing the praises of the King! His sprinkled blood speaks better things… (Hebrews 12:24). It speaks our forgiveness rather than our guilt! And that will produce many praises.

Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

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  • Glenda pittman says:

    Thank you. I have always read that verse thinking the stones would sing praises not stand as witnesses.

    • R c hanson says:

      Who says… God can to anything
      A non believer the ears are closed.
      Do you think the rocks are believable
      Especially not to cloced ears….

      • Jerry Cisar says:

        One must understand what the Bible says according to what the original author and audience would have understood those words to mean. That is what this article sets out to do.

    • Jerry Cisar says:

      You are welcome. Glad to see you enjoyed it.

    • Al says:

      When one travels down the road from the mount of Olives you see the graves of thousands lining the hillside. On them rocks are placed in memorial to the deceased person, as flower wilt too quickly. These graves have been there since before Jesus walked down the hillside toward the East Gate. So I suggest these were the rocks Jesus referred to. Whenever we read about Jesus, one needs to look up where he was at that time, as the subjects were near by. eg at Cesarea Philipi. That is where Peter had revelation that Jesus is the Christ-Messiah. Jesus mentions the Gates of Hell not prevailing. The temple to Pan at that place had “The Gate of Hell” as part of the complex. This is where children were sacrificed to god Pan.

    • Matt says:

      Everything emits a frequency due to the vibration made by the energy of atoms. Sound is vibration and is measured in frequency.
      I believe that, though there are other meanings to this verse like the one discussed above, we should still be aware that all creation sings God’s praises.
      Psalm 96:11-12
      11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

  • Brian says:

    Thank you for posting this! It has helped me tremendously! Before getting saved (Easter 2014) I was a very devout Jehovah’s Witness. We were taught basically that if we did not go door to door and preach that God would have the stones do it, in which case He would have no need of us and therefore would reject us.
    Now I know the truth is that He has never needed us and never will. But He loves us. We can choose to accept that love or to reject it. But with that choice we have consequences. 1 John 5:12.

  • Francess says:

    I think it is the stones of New Jerusalem that will speak for Jesus – the gemstones. May He come quickly. Amen.

  • Grace Tinuade says:

    Thank you. There is no doubt that the Bible is whole. I do not deny the power of GOD to make donkeys speak but in the context of Luke 19:40, the stones cry out as witnesses of the Lord JESUS awesome deeds. Glory be to GOD forever!

  • Grace Tinuade says:

    Thank you. Indeed the stones stand as witness of the awesome deeds of the Lord JESUS. While GOD can do anything, he chose human, even children to speak for him. Glory be to GOD forever!

  • Frank Crumell says:

    Excellent article! Well researched and biblically sound. Thanks for the thoughtful explanation of this event.

  • I was asking the Brethren leader of my bible group if he would help with a prayer group forming for prayer of repentance in the church (fellowship) in these days of apostasy and he did not react to my request other than to say : “We are in the last days” and no action on my request. He interpreted my being prompted by the HS for the church to repent and going back to orthodoxy as a wish for revival which is not p.o. the last days in which he says we are now. I however meant that we like Moses stood in the breach and pray heartily for the sins of our brethren who sit and say and do nothing about it. Repentance is our responsibility reviving is the Lord’s. He did not want to understand me I think. So far he stayed silent on my request and must pray alone. That I was saddened is an understatement. Luke 19 came to mind of the very stones would cry out and your comments have helped me to realize these verses do fit to my heart’s desire in the matter after all.

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