The Branch From Jesse
11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
I know what you are thinking. “What does this passage have to do with me? It’s nice and all, but I don’t live near goats and lions, so….?!?” I have read and listened to this verse many times, specifically I hear it every Advent as our congregation prepares to celebrate Christmas. I have known that it is a prophecy from Isaiah that Jesus would come. I got that much, but as my Pastor spoke on this verse in our “On The Move” Advent series this past week, he shared some insights on this passage that were so profound to me, so “Aha”-like. This passage became more than just a little footnote in the Advent liturgy for me, a piece of history that points toward Christ. It became an image of what God has done through His son and how He IS doing it in our lives today.
Take the whole “stump” thing for example. This stump is a reference to God’s people…I had gotten that much, but think about it…what makes a stump, a stump? Usually a big removal, a separation of sorts, a cutting away, a breaking. Many bad things had happened to Israel. Disobedience, sin, a turning away from God, caused this once great nation with many branches to become a stump. As Pastor Bruce described all of this, I really felt like I could relate to the stump! I have felt removed, separated, broken, and scarred because of my own behavior and due to the behavior of others…just like Israel.
And yet…the shoot comes up.
Despite Israel’s state of being torn down, of God’s people creating a mess of the promises He had given them, in the middle of all of this, God shows up—a tiny green shoot, a baby is born.
Isn’t that amazing!? Even when we are in the middle of our bad decisions, struggles with sin and pain, when we are in the throes of civil war within our families or even in ourselves, God is there, Jesus comes.
Israel was waiting for a Savior to bring peace. God’s people were expecting a mighty warrior King, like the kings of other nations but instead, they received a little tiny baby. Peace does not always look like what we expect and does not always occur how we think it should. In the world, we wage war to bring peace, but when Jesus comes, the One who is Peace, we can stop fighting with each other, with ourselves.
When Jesus came, everything changed. But everything is also still changing, and will be eternally transformed when He returns. We do not have to wait for peace! The peace Christ brings is accessible to us through the Holy Spirit, who is IN us! When we accept this and take hold of it…The stump becomes the root. All that has been torn down is being raised up—growth happens. Where we were once exposed, we become shielded by the canopy of grace and mercy. The Shoot comes over us so that we can overcome our brokenness and be made whole again.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33