If these stones could talk

In rooms that may have seen a lot of action or secrets, one might wonder what the walls would say if they could talk. Since much of what is recorded in the Bible took place outside or in tents, if these walls could talk isn’t really pertinent. But there is something else that was present at pretty much every major biblical event. Stones.

Rocks, not even precious ones, hold great importance in scriptures. Jesus himself is referred to as a stone.

The stone the builders rejects
has become the capstone.

Luke 20:17 (quoting Psalm 118:22) (NIV)

In Joshua 22:10, the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh built an altar of stone to stand as a witness to future generations that they worship the Lord.

In Joshua 4:7, Joshua commanded that twelve stones be taken from the middle of the Jordan River that Israel had just crossed. Those stones would become a memorial to Israel for all God has done for His people.

Elijah, in 1 Kings 18:31, took twelves stones to repair the altar of the Lord.

In 1 Samuel 17:40, David selected five smooth stones to take with him into battle against Goliath.

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the passover, his followers shouted his praises. The Pharisees, as usual, weren’t impressed and wanted Jesus to silence them. He refused.

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:40 (NIV)

I don’t think that Jesus meant every inanimate stone laying on the ground would suddenly find its voice. I believe Jesus was referring to every stone set up as a memorial in God’s name, every stone used in the name of the Lord, every stone that stood as a witness to God’s glory and greatness.

And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.

“See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.

Joshua 24:26-27 (NIV)

If we keep silent in our praise, I believe that God truly can make these memorial stones speak out. They have been made witnesses to miracles and wonders—the very things we should be proclaiming at every opportunity.

We may wish to know what the walls of The Oval Office may have to say if they could talk, but we shouldn’t have to wonder what the stones would say. We should be saying it for them.

Read: 2 Samuel 10-12, Luke 19:29-48

On trial

Read: Deuteronomy 11-13, Mark 13:1-13

I’ve never been on trial. I’ve never been to a trial. The closest I’ve been to trial is walking past the courthouse with my groceries. What I know of court and the process involved in a trial mostly comes from television. I take it all with a grain of salt because I assume that much of it is made to be much more dramatic than real life for the sake of cramming an entire case into forty-two minutes.

But one thing I do know is that, when a witness is to take the stand, a lawyer will prepare that witness. They will go over any and all questions that may be asked of them and refine responses in order to support a certain narrative and press a desired outcome.

Jesus has a discussion with his disciples about standing trial.

Mark 13-11

Notice he doesn’t say, “If you are arrested and brought to trial.” He says, “Whenever.” It’s a sure thing. This life we’ve been called to will most certainly earn us our day in front of a judge.

Right now, our judge is the rest of the world. Christians all around are being put on trial—both in the courtroom and out of it. We are being challenged on our faith and the very core of our beliefs. And the sad part is, in many instances, we’re losing our case.

Why? Because we’re not listening to our lawyer. He’s there prompting us, telling us what to say. Some of us ignore him or block him out. Others don’t even know he’s there, wanting to help.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him, But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14:16-17 (NIV)

Counselor is another term for a lawyer, specifically a trial lawyer. So it makes sense that, if Jesus expected us to be on trial, he’d also provide the lawyer. Like anyone on trial, if we want to win, first we need to accept the help of our lawyer. Then we need to take our lawyer’s advice. He’s the expert. We’re not. In the case of our Counselor, the Holy Spirit, he actually speaks through us. If we let him.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26 (NIV)

Accepting Jesus is the first part of our Christian walk. Accepting the Holy Spirit ensures that we are able to continue that walk and stand firm.

A response

Read: Numbers 34-36, Mark 10:32-52

Do you ever read a verse or two in the Bible and think, I’ve read this somewhere before… For me, today was one of those days. As I read through the account of blind Bartimaeus in Mark, I was reminded of another passage in scripture. And no, it wasn’t someone else’s account of the same man. It was in Hebrews and it feels like a response to the account in Mark. Let me show you what I found.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…

Hebrews 12:1a (NIV)

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd…

Mark 10:46a (NIV)

I understand that Hebrews is referring to all of those great men and women of the faith that have gone before us, but the crowd in Mark also served as witnesses. Some didn’t feel that Bartimaeus deserved Jesus’ attention, but others did.

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.”

Mark 10:48-49 (NIV)

Without these people who encouraged him, Bartimaeus would never have experienced what happened next. The passage wouldn’t even be in the Gospels. How inconsequential would a man calling after Jesus be? I’m sure it happened all the time. But because this beggar was surrounded by those who had already seen or experienced Jesus, we have his story to tell.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and thes in that so easily entangles.

Hebrews 12:1b (NIV)

Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

Mark 10:50 (NIV)

Throw, throwing, both of these words come from the same root that mean to get away from. The implication is that it wasn’t a slothful trod away from hindrance, but a sudden casting away from that which may entangle a person. It is likely that Bartimaeus would not have been able to jump up had he remained wrapped up in his cloak. But because he didn’t want to lose his chance at speaking with Jesus, he tossed it aside and got away from it.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2a (NIV)

“Rabbi, I want to see.”

Mark 10:51b (NIV)

One translation goes so far to say, “That I may see thee.” Bartimaeus didn’t just want to see, he wanted to see Jesus.

…and let us run with perseverance the race marked for us.

Hebrews 12:1c (NIV)

Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:52b (NIV)

Many Christians are under the impression that we must be trailblazers, crashing ahead, clearing a path that has yet to be trod. Never once did Jesus tell his followers to go somewhere he’d never been or do something he’d never done. Bartimaeus got up and followed Jesus. The writer in Hebrews tells us to run the race that’s been marked for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

Jesus already blazed the trail with his suffering. He marked it with his blood. It is through our faith—that begins and ends with Christ—that we see that road before us. And, like Bartimaeus, we must refuse to give in to those who would shut us up or discourage us from receiving that which we’ve been promised, cast away anything that might hold us back, jump up, declare what we want from Jesus, and follow him.

Stones

Joshua said to all the people, “This stone has heard everything the Lord said to us. It will be a witness to testify against you if you go back on your word to God.”

Joshua 24:27 (NLT)

It was common in those days to use stones as witnesses of great events (not that they’d be able to testify in a court of law). When God did something great and mighty, Israel would oft erect a large stone. This would serve as a reminder to them as well as to future generations of God’s goodness and mercy. These stones proclaimed God’s greatness to all who saw them.

Upon reading the verse in Joshua, I was reminded of another scripture regarding stones:

Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these [people] keep silent, the stones will cry out [in praise]!”

Luke 19:40 (AMP)

And then I got to thinking—dangerous, I know. Perhaps Jesus wasn’t referring to just any old stones along the road. Perhaps he was referring to all of the witness stones that the Jews had raised up over the years. Perhaps if his followers failed to proclaim his glory, those stones really would cry out their reminders of God’s grace and goodness.

As a male Jew who had spent many hours in the temple, Jesus would have well known of all the stones his ancestors had stood up. As the Son of God, he knew exactly why each and every stone sat where it did. He knew that every stone proudly proclaimed the glory and awesome works of the Father.

If we don’t proclaim the Good News, maybe those old stones will really cry out.

Daily Bible reading: Joshua 23-24, Luke 6:27-49

Power

This week we’ve already talked about Jesus’ voice as well as his works. Once we know his voice and have seen his works, what then?

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria , and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:8 (ESV)

Once we know Jesus’ voice and we’ve seen his work, it’s up to us to then talk about it. Share with others what he’s done for us and for others. And just to be sure that every witness had personally experienced Jesus in an unforgettable way, he left with the promise to send the Holy Spirit.

Jesus knew that, once the disciples had been filled with the Spirit as he was, there would be no going back. They all would have experienced something so life-changing that they would have to tell people about it.

Daily Bible reading: Ezra 9-10: Acts 1

Can I get a Witness?

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.

John 12:17 (ESV)

Had God done great things on your behalf?

Don’t say, no.

You can’t say, no.

All you need to do is read through the Psalms.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:4

Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.

Psalm 85:12

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly

Psalm 84:11

I praise you for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works:
my soul knows it very well

Psalm 139:14

If the crowds that had seen Jesus do great things had never continued to bear witness, to talk about what they had seen, the Pharisees would have had no reason to capture and kill Jesus. If Jesus hadn’t been crucified, he couldn’t have been raised from the dead. If Jesus had never been raised from the dead, we would not have eternal salvation.

Never take for granted the power of talking about what Jesus has done for you.

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 1-3; John 12:1-19

Witness

How well do you know yourself? How confident are you in who and what you are? Do you require confirmation from those around you? Or do stand tall and firm being sure of yourself?

Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

John 2:23-25 (ESV)

How often have you entrusted your identity to those around you? Before you answer “never”, think about it for a moment. How much stock have you put in to the words spoked over you and about you?

Jesus knew who he was. He was confident in his identity and refused to trust man with himself. He didn’t rely on the confirmation of his disciples to stand firm in himself. He stood firm in his own understanding of himself knowing that men can be fickle and quickly change their minds and allegiances.

As difficult as it can be, we only need one person to bear witness for us. God. When we know who God has made us to be, that’s all we need. The words and affirmations of the people surrounding us can change from day to day, but God’s words over us never change.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 19-20, John 2

Covenant

Have you ever made a promise? Wait. That’s a silly question. Of course you’ve made promises.

Have you kept all your promises?

How often do we make promises throughout our day without even thinking about it? It’s become a part of our every day language, yet we’ve lost the true meaning of the concept.

PROMISE: In a general sense, a declaration, written or verbal, made by one person to another, which binds the person who makes it, either in honour, conscience or law, to do or forbear a certain act specified; a declaration which gives to the person to whom it is made, a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of the act.

I’ve had a lot of people promise me things and never come through. I’m not the kind of person who would go and claim the performance of forbearance of the act. Should I be?

In 1 Samuel 20 David and Jonathan make a promise to each other binding themselves to each other with God as witness. This promise forces Jonathan to act against his own father. Had he decided that his familial relationship was worth more than his word, David would have died at the hand of Saul. God’s anointed would have been slain and Jesus’ bloodline cut off.

Because one man decided it was his duty to keep his word, to keep his promise, we have a Saviour.

Now, maybe the promises you make every day won’t result in a messiah, but think about the consequence of your word both before you make it, and when you have to decide whether to keep it or not.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 19-21; Luke 15:11-32