Today is Palm Sunday, that day when the Church commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus the Messiah into Jerusalem, humble and loving, riding on a donkey. My pastor’s sermon today was based on Luke’s account, which contains Jesus’ prophecy about the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Palm Sunday is a day of mixed feelings. It is a day of joy, when the crowds acknowledged Jesus for who He is and asked Him to save them. Salvation represents a past, present, and future experience. In the past Christ died on a cross outside Jerusalem, the Just for the unjust, the Holy for the unholy, the Innocent for the guilty. For those who are now Christians, their request that the Lord pardon them and welcome them into the Kingdom is a thing of the past. In the present, we are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling and have the comfort of God through His Spirit who, like Christ, intercedes on our behalf and guides us. We wait for our future transformation into the glorious resurrection bodies promised in Scripture, and for the transformation of the world through the Millennial reign of Christ and the renewal of the heavens and the earth.
Palm Sunday is also a day of sadness. From that day we look forward to the sorrow of the Passion, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the groanings of the present age in which we wait for the return of Christ. As the feast days of Israel took on new meaning with the coming of Christ, so Palm Sunday represented a challenge to the traditional understanding of the Messianic King prevalent in the days of Jesus.
Christ came for our inward transformation before He comes for the political transformation of the world. David Pawson in his excellent book, When Jesus Returns, makes the point that we must be transformed from within by the grace of God. External changes around us are not sufficient to make us “born again”. He demonstrates this argument by referencing the termination of the Millennium. Even under the reign of Christ and His saints, the world still will contain people who reject Him. Their rejection becomes apparent at the end of the Millennium when Satan is released and they flock to his banner as “Gog and Magog”, marching on “the camp of the saints”.
Passion Week comes before the Parousia, but we must not underemphasise either. The transformation of our environment and politics and the redemption of our bodies are important. We stand now in the intervening gap, called by some the “Church Age”. Passover and Pentecost have taken on a new meaning with the coming of Christ. We wait now for the fulfilment of the Day of Atonement, Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Tabernacles, and Hanukkah. Israel will be delivered; Christ will come on the day and at the hour of which no one knows but the Father; Christ will tabernacle among us, ruling from Jerusalem, and the Temple will be cleansed and rededicated to the one true God.