Palm Sunday brings with it the promise of the coming of the Kingdom of God. The kingdom that is not of this world. The Kingdom that is available to us now – the only kingdom of the ancient world that still stands.
Yet Palm Sunday also brings for us the promise of the darkest hour of human history: that moment when we murdered the author of life.
So, between the joyous celebration of Palm Sunday and Easter day falls the bleak memory of Jesus betrayal, arrest, denial, mistrial, and execution. The dreadful time when we humans revealed our own perversity of character.
For we did not recognise God when he arrived as the man Jesus. Even though he had revealed himself to his people Israel, they did not receive him. If we were in their shoes, we would not have recognised him either.
In fact, even his disciples – who had lived with him, listened to him, and left all to follow him – did not understand him. He predicted his death and resurrection, but they did not believe him. He pointed to the way he would fulfil the Old Testament, but they were unable to see it. Only after his resurrection, when the Spirit of God was poured upon them, did they understand what he did and why he did it.
So deep is our perverse rejection of God that we will not accept even his kind offer of salvation. He reveals himself as merciful and forgiving. He provides for us the only just and righteous way that we can be forgiven. Yet still we will not accept his kindness. Still, we want to save ourselves – by our own supposed good works, high moral principles, and religious activities. Still, we want to instruct God on how he is to save other people who reject his son’s sacrifice for sin.
God’s generosity is truly amazing that he should send his Spirit to us – opening our eyes to our folly and wickedness – and enabling us to embrace the saviour whom we crucified. Today, Palm Sunday, is an easy day to celebrate – provided that we do not think about the crowd of supporters who did not understand the man that they welcomed, and had all but evaporated within a week, as his enemies executed him.