Rock climbing is one of my favorite activities. There is a huge sense of accomplishment about being able to conquer a wall. To overcome the challenge of the rock and pushing yourself further than you ever thought possible.
I also enjoy showing young people how to climb. There is really no way to explain the look on their faces when they get to the top of a wall they were adamant about not wanting to climb or not thinking they would be able to make it to the top. Again, I think it is the ability to overcome, to push ourselves and to do something we did not think we could, which makes us want to rise up to these challenges and overcome.
The Model of the Rock
There is something about a rock. Even Jesus had a fascination with rocks that almost seems odd toward the last moments of his ministry. The first episode is on Palm Sunday when Jesus is riding a donkey back into Jerusalem. Crowds are laying down palm branches, putting their coats in the middle of the road, and shouting out “Hosanna”. The religious leaders of the day come to Jesus and demand he tell them to stop all of this fuss and screaming. To which Jesus replies “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40).
There is also the scene a week later where Jesus gives up his spirit on the cross and in that moment we know that the temple curtain split, the earth shook, tombs broken open and bodies came to life (which is another conversation all together), but it also states that the rocks split. (Matthew 27:51-52)
The last instance which Jesus refers to a rock, which happens before these two, is in Matthew 16:18, when Jesus is talking to Peter and tells him “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” So what is Jesus fascination, interest or obsession with rocks? These seem like strange statements and actions to happen through the course of Jesus’ ministry.
The Power of the Rock
I think all this happens in the context of Jesus being able to show the power of God. In the instance of his entrance into Jerusalem, I truly believe the rocks would have cried out if the people had been silent. This scene would have been extremely overwhelming for anyone in attendance.
At the time of Jesus’ death, it show the power Jesus did have while on this earth. The earth, the 3rd “rock” from the sun, trembled and shook and rocks split because what was happening in Jesus’ death was “otherworldly.” The occurrence of Jesus death could not be handled by the natural construct of the earth.
Then there is the reference to Peter, oh Peter, he tried so hard as a disciple and never seemed to get it. Never really seemed to get who Jesus was and what he was trying to accomplish on this earth.
Peter was the one who had his shame repeated in the gospels of the one disciple who publicly denied Christ, not just once, but three separate times. Yet with all of these shortcomings Peter was the one Jesus pulled aside to say “you Peter are my rock, you are the one that I am going to build my new church upon and nothing will stand against it, not even the gates of hell.” There is the power in the rock. For if we look back, the church Peter started over 2000 years ago has stood strong in spite of our best efforts to destroy it. Because that is what rocks do, they stand strong.
Jesus referred to himself as the “stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” which is repeated in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17 and even in Acts 4:11. Because Jesus was the foundation, he was the rock that would not be moved. This attribute was instilled in Peter. The power, the confidence, and the ability to be the rock, the foundation for which his church would be built. This is the same confidence, ability and trust Christ is putting into us. We are also rocks, God has built us up strong to be his rock, for his purpose to do his work. And not even the gates of hell can stand against us. This is the power that was displayed when the rocks split at Jesus death. The same power which is alive and well living in each of us through the power of the cross.
One of that last statements Jesus said to Peter was to “feed my sheep”, (John 21:17) how are you being a rock for Christ today, how are you not only feeding yourself, building yourself up in who Christ is, but feeding the sheep around you with the gospel message of Jesus Christ? Let’s keep crying out Hosanna so the rocks can remain silent, for now.