A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit… In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. – Isaiah 11:1,10
A stump is what’s left when a tree’s life is over. A woods or forest that has been clear-cut is a quiet stump-witness of what was once a lively place, but no longer.
The prophet Isaiah had said (cf. chap. 10) that God was in the lumberjack business and would cut down with his ax those kings and nations that defiantly shook their fist at him in unbelief. Not too surprisingly, even Israel and Judah were among those trees that needed to be cut down as both leaders and people turned their backs on him. In the end, all that was left were stories and scattered people. No more kings. Just stumps.
God had once promised Abraham, as well as his later descendant, the great King David (son of the farmer Jesse), that he would send a ruler and Savior for the world through his family line. Here Isaiah repeats that promise with the picture of a shoot, a baby growth, coming out of the dead stump labeled, “Jesse”. Today’s logging companies plant new trees when they cut down old ones. But God brought the new shoot out of the old stump because the root was still alive. That shoot and that root are both called “he”. We know him as the eternal Son of God who not only created Jesse and his son David, but also became a human being, born as a tiny baby to a virgin mother who had David’s bloodline!
This time of the year our eyes are focused on the celebration of the day that little Shoot came into the world. He grew into a strong tree of a man who one day was put on another tree, cut in the shape of a cross, on which he poured out the precious sap of his holy, perfect blood and paid for the entire world’s evil, sin and guilt.
We attend special worship services and even sing Christmas songs while driving alone in the car because we have the heavenly peace that comes from knowing and trusting in the Christ child, the shoot and root of Jesse. As we look on Jesus as he is revealed in his word, our Father assures us that he loves us, fully forgives us, and then pulls us toward him in such a way that his peace has become contagious. It’s as if the calf and the lion and yearling are peacefully together and a little child is leading them (Isaiah 11:6b)! Be filled with God’s peace. There’s enough to go around, so share Jesus with someone else, too!
Prayer: Jesus, we are amazed at the intricate planning and effort you put into your birth as our Savior. You are both David’s Son and David’s Lord. You are also our Lord. Rule in our hearts so that this Advent season brings your great peace into our homes and public lives as well. Amen.