When I was in Grants Pass in June with Esther, I took my new friend, Tyler, to lunch. 27 years old. Esther & Wesley’s pastor. We were comparing notes about ministry with today’s challenges and remaining true to the gospel. Tyler said something intriguing: “Your generation sees things in black and white… my generation has far more shades of gray.” I find truth in that statement, but It may be too simple to make sweeping generalizations about entire generations. However, without question, there are people who are black and white and other who live in a shades of gray world, never challenging people's choices.
In today’s message I am amazed how Jesus is true to the values of both black and white people and shades of gray people. The one side is so good at pressing for a decision and the other is awesome at love and accepting people for who they are… Jesus shows us a wonderful bridge that brings the values of the two sides together… we’ll get to that a bit later in this message….
Jesus has entered into Jerusalem…there is an urgency. There is a whirlwind of activity…We live in a crazy world with time ticking way…how fast children grow… Can you believe it is almost August? We work to find ways to stretch time, squish in week-end getaways, stay up late when we should be in bed earlier for work/school the next day. We fight to buy time… yet time marches on. One of you recently said to me, “I can’t believe I’ll be 80 in a few weeks…”
There is urgency when Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Jesus has entered Jerusalem to the praises of the people. Jesus is like the Grand Marshall of the parade, and the Pharisees are upset because they think Jesus is a spectacle… Jesus response is about the urgency of time… time is marching…
Why are the Pharisees upset?
Are they jealous? They see the focus is on Jesus instead of them. Jesus is getting attention and they are not!
Maybe the Pharisees are embarrassed by Jesus! He is different. He talks differently. He hangs around with outcasts, the former blind man is with him, they’d heard about Zacheaus… he sent away the rich man away without affirming all his good works… they call him a teacher, but I suspect it is with a bit of embarrassment, like me trying to defend a questionable pastor…
The Pharisees are certainly afraid. As Jesus enters Jerusalem not only are they in the shadow of the temple, but they are also in the shadow of Antonia Fortress, a Roman military barracks that is strategically located to watch the temple and all the activities. Especially at Passover time they are on high alert… “Tell your disciples to quit drawing attention to you, tell them to be silent, don’t create a ruckus, let everything be well and good…” The Pharisees could well think they are cautioning Jesus to tone it down for His sake…
Are the Pharisees angry? Jesus arrogantly marches into the great city. It was one thing to run around the country side causing a stir among the country folk, but to bring the spectacle to Jerusalem was more than they could stomach! His teaching do not emphasize the traditions... The Pharisees are the keepers of the traditions. Jesus is undermining the message of the Pharisees. He speaks in terms of the coming Kingdom. He speaks in terms of forgiveness direct from God instead of keeping of the rules.
Maybe the Pharisees are just irritated.
Jealousy, embarrassment, fear, anger ~~ mixed emotions caused the Pharisees to go to shout out to Jesus to tell his followers to shut up.
Why do people today want committed unwavering Christians to be silent? Moderate the message?
Is it jealousy, because the world is so fickle and they want everyone to be indecisive? Is it embarrassment ~~ good to be religious within limits, as long as you keep it private. Is it fear? Not wanting to rock the boat of society, not liking to be challenged. Is it anger? If I express confidence in Christ and believe in the necessity of salvation some folks take that as a personal challenge that they are wrong!
We must not be silent. We must continue to praise Jesus Christ. Be a witness to his true nature as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We must never grow weary of telling others that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and he alone transforms lives and gives purpose.
I love Jesus response to the Pharisees in Luke 19:40. Something powerful is going on… Jesus shows his great patience and his great love. I still think about what Tyler said to me in Grants Pass when I took him to lunch: “Your generation sees things in black and white… my generation has far more shades of gray.” There are too many exceptions to make absolute statements about generations, but he is right there are people who think very differently… I think there is truth in both sides. We need to bridge the gap, we need to get over our fears of testifying to the gospel, our embarrassment, our jealousy of others, our anger... We cannot be reduced to silence…
I cannot let go of my conviction that people must make a decision: commitment or rejection of Christ. But there is also something awesome about the shades of gray people who are so good at loving people….///
There is something good in both : pressing for a decision, yet loving people unconditionally regardless of where they are spiritually…May the shades of gray people never give up the love and affirmation of one another but add a challenge for decisions to be made about who Christ is…May the black and white folks keep challenging people to make a decision yet loving them no matter what… never giving up.
Jesus response to the Pharisees includes both~~ A decision has to be made, the clock is ticking, yet there is still time and Jesus will not give up.
I want to share a new way of understanding Luke 19:40…. READ. “The stones will cry out…” The normal understanding of this verses is that the stones will sing praises if the disciples are silent. But the verse says the rocks will CRY OUT. That could mean praise and worship Jesus, but is that what the Pharisees would have understood? There is a history of CRYING OUT in the scriptures that points to a different conclusion:
In Gen. 4:10, Cain had taken the life of his brother Abel. The Lord says to Cain, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” Abel’s is crying out guilt – Cain’s guilt.
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. Joshua set up a stone under an oak tree and said, “See! 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.”
The stone had been present when all the warnings were issued by Joshua; the stone heard the people’s commitment to serve the Lord. 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. The stones hear and testify against those who did wrong in their presence.
Luke 19:40 is a powerful statement when read with this background. Jesus is saying, “If no one is left to shout out praises and honor me as the King of Kings, then judgment is here and the stones will cry out as a witness against you!” [what stones? Possibly the stones of the temple that had seen it all…]
I.e, You want the disciples to keep singing my praises, you may be rejecting me right now, but as long as they are praising me there is still time. The clock is ticking, but there is still time. Jesus’ warning is grace. His warning is a call for the Pharisees to examine their hearts and attitudes: are they sure they want the praise of Jesus to stop? Think again, because that means if that happens it is time for judgment. Jesus is calling the Pharisees to make a decision, yet he is extending love and grace, which is revealed by what happens next:
Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and it’s people… READ Luke 19:41… Jesus is passionate… he is emotional over the people wanting more understanding, more commitment, a life of devotion to God… he cries tears of compassion… the warning that the stones will cry out is GRACE because that day has not yet come. Time is ticking, but there is still time, still time to turn to the Lord, still time to join the chorus of worshippers, still time to be forgiven…
The tears of Jesus serve as a bridge between black and white people that emphasizes that a decision must be made and shades of gray people that loves without condition ~~ the tears lament rejection but also demonstrate deep compassionate love. Do you have people in your life that make you weep. Weeping is a bridge between loving people and wanting to see people transformed by the Lord…
Jesus weeps and explains that a day of judgment is coming, but it is not yet: READ Luke 19:42-44.
Jesus is not giving up. He is warning them that everything will be different from what they expect. May their eyes be open to the deeper meaning of the triumphal entry… The end is coming but it is not yet. I think Jesus’ prophecy is similar to Jonah when Jonah was told to warn Nineva what was going to happen. The people heard and responded and changed. Jesus is saying there is still time to recognize the coming of the Lord, still time to accept the fullness of who Jesus is… If destruction were a foregone conclusion there would be no reason for his words… but he speaks with tears of compassion. Tears of warning.
The Pharisees confronted Jesus and told him to silence his disciples. You do not know what you are saying, says Jesus, for if I do that, the stones will cry out as a witness against you. As long as there are people on earth praising the Lord Jesus Christ, the witnessing stones will remain silent. The Pharisees are rejecting Jesus and the coming of God and Jesus says, “I’m not giving up on you… if I stop the disciples from praising me then judgment will come…” The message is the same today.
Time is ticking. Judgment is coming. Jesus, in his great compassion and mercy is saying there is still time…. As followers of Christ, we are called to keep on praising the Lord Jesus Christ, the coming of God. If our voice is silent, then judgment will come. Maybe we’ll irritate the world, make the world angry, embarrass the world, create jealousy, but our voice must continue to be heard. As long as the Lord is giving time, may we lift up our voices in praise, testify of the Kingship of Christ Jesus. May we weep like our Lord, a bridge of tears loving people without condition, yet believing there is time to make a life transforming decision for Jesus Christ. Amen.