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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Stones and Colts

Today in church we looked at the Bible passage in Luke 19:28-40, Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I thought I might share some thoughts with you about this passage from a creation perspective.

Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.... (Matt 21:5)

Many people talking about this passage focus on how it convey's Jesus' humility and the incongruity of a king riding into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey instead of a magnificent horse.

Listening to the verse, it occurred to me that this was also an interesting choice for another reason. In Luke Jesus specifies that his disciples are to bring to him 'a colt that has never been ridden'. Jesus specifically asks for a colt that has not been broken yet. I don't know if donkeys are more placid, but generally unbroken horses are difficult to deal with. They wouldn't usually be your first choice to ride through a noisy and excited crowd of people throwing cloaks and palm fronds beneath its feet. This would be a challenge for any horse, but for an unbroken colt? It's a potential recipe for disaster, and it would be somewhat embarrassing if Jesus had fallen off the donkey. Yet this doesn't seem to concern our Lord. Why is this? I would like to propose it is because as the Word and the Lord of Creation, Jesus had a unique bond with all creatures which enabled him to calm and guide the colt through the challenging situation. Like a shepherd, and free of sin, he understood his flock (including all creatures) well enough that he could create a relationship of complete trust with the colt. It was unnecessary for the colt to be broken, and indeed, Jesus asked for a colt who had never been ridden because his relationship with the colt was one of innocent trust, like a child who has not been 'broken in' to the reality and horrors of the world yet.

The stones themselves would shout
We discussed the idea of stones shouting in church. At first it seems unusual and thoroughly miraculous. It makes some more sense though if we consider the first creation account in Genesis in terms of God singing creation into being. God sung to the stones, and ever since they have been echoing back that song in the form of praise, and resonating with the power of that song. The Psalms (65:12-13; 69:34; 96:11-12; 98:7-8; 103:22; 148; 150:6; cf. Isa 42:10) tell us that all creation praises God. Creation is shouting and praising the Lord all the time, so to make the stones shout, all Jesus would have needed to do was make that song audible to the people there.

This passage also indicates that when the people and disciples fail to praise God, creation will fill the gap. We see this soon after when Jesus is hanging on the cross and the crowd that shouted 'Hosanna' less than a week earlier has now changed their tune to 'Crucify him', and most of his disciples have scattered. Yet creation recognises what is happening, and speaks through a failing of the sun causing darkness and an earthquake.

So when we, the people of God, are struggling to praise him, we should turn to creation for inspiration. Could we but hear it, the stones are shouting.

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Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
Genesis 2:15

The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability

1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.

2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).

3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).

4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)

5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).

Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+