Monday, April 2, 2012

A (Belated) April Fool's Day Riddle

I meant to post yesterday, but alas, homework took me prisoner. I am back now, wishing you a bright April morning. This was to be an April Fool's Day post, but since April Fool's Day is over, I hope you all still have your sense of humor. I present to you a riddle from G.K. Chesterton. Guess (if you don't already know) what the poem is about. Don't Google it. Once you've guessed, then read my comments below to see if you were right.

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
Of all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth
Of anciet crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce out and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

If you guessed correctly, then you'd realize that this is more a Palm Sunday post than an April Fool's Day post. What I have above is G.K. Chesterton's "The Donkey," a poem I have long appreciated for its clever perspective on Christ's triumphal entry. Obviously, the shouts about the donkey's ears and palms before his feet were not for him, but he is important for what he symbolizes and what he prove about Jesus.

First, the donkey is a symbol of peace. Christ came into Jerusalem, not as a conquering King, but as the One who would make peace between God and man. So many people misunderstood this, which is why the triumphant crowd on Sunday became the vicious crowd on the following Friday. This is also why James and John had asked Jesus if they might sit at His right and left hand in the kingdom. They had an earthly kingdom in mind. This was not Christ's mission at all, something the disciples could not understand until after the resurrection. The idea of peace between man and his Creator is so basic, and yet so mind-boggling. Adam and Eve enjoyed peace with God until they sinned. Jesus sought to restore man to his ideal and first purpose, to serve God and Him alone. This is could not happen while man remained in sin. So, peace had to come through the most heinous act of violence in human history. God Himself died. Those who trust in that sacrifice are now at peace, not just a feeling of peace, but a legal peace. There is no longer any animosity, nothing owed, because the price has been paid.

Second, the donkey fulfills the prophecy abou the Messiah in Zechariah 9:9, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (NASB). Israel knew that their King was coming to them mounted on this symbol of peace. They recognized that at the triumphal entry. It was the rest of the story that they missed. May we not repeat the mistake.