What does it mean that 'the rocks will cry out' in Luke 19:40?
Luke 19:28–40 recounts Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before He was crucified. Jesus rode into town on the back of a donkey, and there were crowds praising Him, laying their cloaks in the road before Him, saying "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (verse 38). The Pharisees in the crowd who heard the people worshiping Jesus admonished Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples" (verse 39). The Pharisees believed it was blasphemous for the people to be worshipping Jesus because they did not recognize His deity.
Jesus replied to them by saying, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out" (Luke 19:40). Did Jesus mean that the stones would literally cry out His praise? Not necessarily. Saying the stones or rocks will cry out is a more proverbial way of saying that Jesus is worthy of all praise. As the King of Kings, He will get the praise He is worthy of—and if people won't praise Him, the rocks will.
With this statement, Jesus let the Pharisees know that the people should be encouraged to praise Him, not condemned for praising Him. If the people wouldn't praise Him, the rest of His creation would be able to fill in the void of their lack of praise. All creation, even inanimate objects like rocks, was made for the glory of God (Colossians 1:6). His creation as a whole declares His praise. Humans are made in God's image and are therefore especially equipped to bring glory to Him (Genesis 1:27).
Even though Jesus was met with praise, days later the crowds shouted in union to crucify Him (Luke 23:18–23).
Picturing rocks crying out in praise of God is just one of many vivid pictures we get throughout the Bible of God's creation praising Him. Psalm 114:4 says "the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs" when God brought the Israelites out of Egypt. Psalm 114:7 says, "Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob." Isaiah 55:12 states, "For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." In Psalm 148, we see a call for all created things to praise the Lord—the angels, the sun, moon, and stars, sea creatures, water, fire and hail, snow and mist, wind, mountains and hills, trees, land animals and birds, kings and rulers, all people, young men and women, old men and children. All people and all things were created for the pleasure and glory of the Creator of them all. Psalm 150:6 provides this exhortation: "Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!"
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