Jesse is shown reclining, as in most early representations of the Tree of Jesse. He is also asleep, so recalling an earlier ancestor, Jacob, who famously fell asleep and dreamed of a ladder extending from earth to heaven; thus the Tree of Jesse may be seen as a divine way from earth to heaven. The tree emerging from Jesse’s chest recalls an even earlier ancestor, Adam: according to the Legend of the True Cross, which would have been familiar to medieval people, when Adam died his son Seth planted a seed in his mouth. This seed grew into a large tree emerging from Adam, and provided the wood from which the cross on which Jesus was crucified was made, so the Tree of Jesse may be seen as another aspect of God’s way of salvation - the Cross.
JESSE is the largest figure in the window, reclining across three of the bottom panels and is a visual representation of the ‘root’ of Jesse (eg Isaiah 11,10), King David’s father. Jesse features in a well-known story where seven of his sons are paraded before Samuel the priest who is charged with selecting the new King of Israel. As Jesse’s sons pass before him Samuel is told to look, not on the man’s appearance or on the height of his stature, ‘for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’. None of these sons of Jesse is chosen, so Samuel says to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ Jesse replies, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep’. Bishop John Davies