Palm Sunday Symbolism

Palm Sunday Pause for Thought on BBC RADIO DEVON 28 March 2021 (begins at 1:54:05)

Palm Sunday is about Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem.

The Donkey is representative of a peaceable kingly power.

The whole act is a deeply symbolic action.

And as the hooves clickety-clacked on the ground – ancient prophesy was being fulfilled.

Most of us have looked at an optical illusion.

We see one thing for a long time;

And as we stare, we see another thing altogether.

My favourite is the old lady’s side profile with a big nose.

Look long enough and you can see a beautiful young woman dressed for a party.

It is in this moment, when the brain screams out “This can’t be!”

That you can flicker between the two images, seeing only one image, does not mean that the other image is not there.

Nor does one image have priority over another.

Some may see the young woman before the old lady’s face.

That doesn’t matter.  But seeing them is what counts.

As an old schoolboy joke has it:  “Oh I see!” said the blind man to his deaf dog.

When Jesus famously rides a donkey as I’ve already described;

We are meant to see more than we can see.

Every Bible story is related to the greater whole.

It’s not just that Jesus rides a donkey – but rather – what does it mean/symbolise?

What greater, more profound truth does it reveal?

In Matthews gospel, immediately before the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem;

There’s a very deliberate, strategically placed story of Jesus healing two blind men.

They cried out despite the massive crowds, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David.”

Everyone told them to shut up and stop causing a fuss.

“This is Jesus, and he’s very important – too important for the likes of you!”

Everyone, that is, except Jesus, who asked them both a very important question:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

Seems silly at first glance, when it’s blindingly obvious (pun intended)!

“We want to see” they replied.  So Jesus heals them and they followed him.

So they were blind but now they can see.

Now, the very next story is Jesus riding a donkey – the question is this: 

Do we see what’s going on – Can we read between the layers of the story?

With the crowd in joyful celebration – they can’t see yet!

They were the very one’s crying “Crucify him” a week later!

The religious leaders in Luke’s gospel couldn’t see – Far too much joy for a religious event!

So we can ask:  What do we see?

Do we see who Jesus is and what he is doing?

Because, in the topsy-turvy world of the Gospel;

It is often the blind who can see and those who can see – can’t!

What do you see?

I like the old schoolboy joke.

Because it’s true.  The blind man really can see, and his deaf dog really can hear.

Nothing will stop Jesus being made known in the world.

And it may take some time, because donkeys are really, really slow!

And instead of asking, “What do you want me to do for you?”

A week later, at the Cross, it’s as if we can hear Jesus say, 

“Look what I have done for you – do you see?”

See ya!

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