The opposition grows

This coming Sunday is the sixth Sunday in the Lenten season called Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

The first sign of opposition to Jesus in Jerusalem arises in the response of the Pharisees to the phenomenon of Jesus’ approach to the city.

They order Jesus to rebuke his disciples—and thereby reject their accolades of messianic kingship. Jesus, however, responds with an allusion to Habakkuk’s words of judgment: “9 Woe to him who pursues evil gain for his household, setting his nest on high to escape the reach of misfortune! 10 You have devised shame for your household, cutting off many peoples, forfeiting your own life: 11 For the stone in the wall shall cry out, and the beam in the woodwork shall answer it!” (Habakkuk 2:9-11)

Jesus’ response echoes the earlier warning John the Baptist had proclaimed to the religious leaders: “8 Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Luke 3:8) Luke prepares the reader for the full import of Jesus’ announcement that “they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (19:44). This ominous warning is all the more devastating because this is the last reference to the Pharisees in Luke. They have consistently opposed Jesus. Now they are silenced and pass from the scene. If the people did not cry out in praise, God would raise up other people to fulfill God’s purposes—even from the stones.

Over the course of Holy Week, each day the gospels will note and describe the growing opposition to Jesus’ ministry and the people’s response to Him. That opposition reaches its zenith in the arrest, trail, torture and crucifixion of “the man who would be king.” That narrative is told is the proclamation of the gospel during the Mass: the Passion narrative.


  • R. Alan Culpepper, The Gospel of Luke, vol. 9 of the New Interpreter’s Bible, ed. Leander E. Keck. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994–2004) 365-71
  • Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke in The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997) 680-82
  • Brian Stoffregen, on-line commentary

Scripture quotes from New American Bible

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