Rocks Cry Out

Rocks Cry Out

Question

Rocks crying out seems like a strange expression. What does Luke 19:40 mean?

Answer

Luke 19:28-40 records the triumphal entrance of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem a week before his murderous crucifixion. (See “Why do Christians celebrate Easter?” below.) Jesus, the King of Kings, rode into town on a borrowed donkey and along the way a “whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen” (Luke 19:37). The crowd yelled, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38). Some Pharisees, gearing up the situation and considering it all blasphemy, beseeched Jesus to rebuke his disciples (Luke 19:39). Jesus’ reply is epic: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40).

The meaning could be proverbial or literal. Either way, rocks normally don’t speak or yell out. But the meaning is quite clear. If mere rocks would cry out, how much more should God’s own people worship and honor their own King as he entered his own city!

Proverbially we observe similar language elsewhere in Scripture (Psa. 114:6; Isa. 55:12; cf. Psa. 98:8; Isa. 35:1, 2; 44:23; 49:13, etc.). All things – including rocks – were made for God’s express glory (Col. 1:16; eg. Heb. 11:3). And if they will sing out, how much more should those created in God’s own image sing out (cf. Gen. 1:27).

But can we really take this saying literally? Let’s consider the time around resurrection itself for a moment. A certain disciple denied him (cf. Luke 22:54-62), others who had followed him cried out, “Crucify, crucify him!” (Luke 23:23), many hid in fear (cf. John 20:19). What happened next? Well the rocks did cry out!!! Matthew 28:2 records, “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.” Did you catch that? Before Jesus’ resurrection and the stone covering the entrance of his tomb was rolled out of the way, there was not just a mere earthquake, but a "great earthquake." And what happens during an earthquake? Science tells us earthquakes are usually caused when underground rock suddenly breaks along a fault. [1] The rocks move and shift. They were saying, or "crying out" very loudly that Jesus had risen from the dead! So, when the crowd noise stopped, the rocks cried out, and God even sent an angel to interpret what was happening. The angel instructed the women who who had come to the tomb to go "cry out" to the disciples, “he has risen from the dead” (Matt 28:7). The King whom they'd previously praised was alive! We too should cry out and spread that good news!

God can’t be silenced! One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11; cf. Rev. 5:13). “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (Psa. 150:6; cf. Psa. 103:22; 145:21).

Reference

[1] Earthquakes are usually caused when rock underground suddenly breaks along a fault. This sudden release of energy causes the seismic waves that make the ground shake. When two blocks of rock or two plates are rubbing against each other, they stick a little. They don't just slide smoothly; the rocks catch on each other. The rocks are still pushing against each other, but not moving. After a while, the rocks break because of all the pressure that's built up. When the rocks break, the earthquake occurs. During the earthquake and afterward, the plates or blocks of rock start moving, and they continue to move until they get stuck again. The spot underground where the rock breaks is called the focus of the earthquake. The place right above the focus (on top of the ground) is called the epicenter of the earthquake. MTU - UPSeis, Why Do Earthquakes Happen? (http://www.geo.mtu.edu/UPSeis/why.html). Last accessed 15 Feb 2020.

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Why do Christians celebrate Easter?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).