Advent 2017: Joy to the World

Day 5: The Stem of Jesse

1 Samuel 16:6-13, Isaiah 11:1-6, Isaiah 53:2-3, Matthew 12:22-23, Matthew 22:41-46, Revelation 22:16


When I was a boy, our family owned a landscaping company for a very short period of time. I would often accompany my dad to a particular property where we would assess where we might plant new trees and shrubbery. On occasion, we would happen across the stump of a tree in a place where my dad wanted us to plant something. I distinctly remember my dad showing me new growth shooting up out of one such stump. He took the opportunity to teach me how God makes use of that illustration in His Word regarding the prophecies about the coming King and Redeemer.

When God first established His kingdom in Israel, He chose David—the youngest of the seven sons of Jesse who, by outward appearance and circumstances, was the least likely to be chosen (1 Samuel 16:6-13). The Covenant Lord then promised to raise up a seed from David to sit on the throne of God, ruling over God’s people forever. David was not the ultimate King of Israel; the Son of David, Jesus Christ, would be the everlasting King.

In the Prophets, we discover the metaphorical language of the Redeemer being the “root and branch of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1-10). Jesus is both God (i.e. the root) and man (i.e. the branch). Isaiah envisaged the Messiah would “grow up before [the Lord] as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground” (Isaiah 53:2). When the hope of Israel had seemingly been dashed to pieces by the captivity they had suffered at the hands of oppressors, the Lord caused a tender shoot to spring up out of the remaining stump of His kingdom.

The imagery of Jesus being the root and branch of Jesse is picked up in the final revelation of Scripture. Twice in the book of Revelation, the conquering and glorified Jesus is said to be “the root of David” (Revelation 5:5; 22:16), the victorious source of everlasting life for His people. Though He was cut off in judgment on the cross, He sprouted again in the resurrection.

Jesus is both the root and branch of Jesse—the maker of covenantal promises and the One who fulfills them. So no matter how desolate our lives may seem, we can look to Jesus and be reminded of how God made new life to sprout of the greatest desolation. We who trust in Christ Jesus are “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7).

Written by Nick Batzig