Is it possible to have a Palm Sunday story without palms? Have you ever heard a stone shout out?
On Palm Sunday, (March 25th) we will begin our observance of Holy Week by remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. This story appears in all four of the Gospels, and each account of these familiar events is unique in its own way. It is always interesting to compare and contrast the stories in order to figure out the agendas of the Gospel writers and their original audiences, as well as to discern how those elements that are unique to a single version might be instructive to us as modern-day readers.
This year we will be hearing Luke’s version of the Palm Sunday story. While this account has many similarities with the other Gospel stories, there are two significant differences. First, there are no palms waved by the cheering crowds—Luke reports only that they laid their cloaks on the road in front of Jesus as he paraded into town. (But don’t worry—in spite of their absence in the story, we still will have our traditional palm processional!) Second, at the very end of the story, in response to the Pharisees’ angry demands that he silence his disciples, Jesus replies, “I tell you, if (the disciples) were silent, the stones would shout!” (In no other version are there angry Pharisees and shouting stones).
Those distinguishing elements bring to mind a number of questions apart from the two obvious ones mentioned above—questions that have to do with our own response when Jesus comes into our lives as he did for those in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. If nothing else, Luke’s version invites us to explore how in the face of resistance, we might respond to and celebrate the coming of Christ in exceptional ways so that others might see and hear in us the great Good News of the one who came to save not just us, but the world. In the end, perhaps Jesus is reminding us that we are to be like shouting stones!
I hope you will join us on this important day in our Lenten journey as we consider this distinctive version of the familiar story.
Blessings on your journey!