By Bob Bunn
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
In January of 2013, my family awoke in the middle of the night to a loud crash outside of our home. When I opened my front door, I was met with a maze of branches from a tree that had fallen against the house. The storm didn’t seem too bad, but the winds were enough to crank the trunk of the tree and leave it leaning against our roof and porch.
Thankfully, the damage was limited. The insurance company paid to have the tree removed and the roof repaired. It was amazing to watch the guys from the tree service do their thing. The precision and experience was impressive, and the speed with which they worked would be the envy of any NASCAR pit crew. They had everything sawed up and carted off in no time.
Except for the stump. Since the tree was split instead of being pulled by the roots, the workers left a stump behind. In fact, it’s still there to this day, more than a decade later.
Here’s something I’ve noticed about that stump over the years: It’s not growing back. Nothing is springing to life from that stump. It’s just sitting there, slowly decomposing.
That’s really no surprise. That’s pretty much what stumps do. They aren’t productive. They just take up space until they deteriorate or someone pays to have them ground up. They aren’t inspirational or hopeful. They’re just stumps.
That’s what makes prophecies like Isaiah 11 so important to us as Christ followers. Looking toward the advent of the Messiah, God predicted that a “shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). When Isaiah spoke those words, the Davidic line of kings was still functioning. But a day was coming when that line would be cut off and hauled off to Babylon with the rest of the nation. Nothing but a stump would be left.
But unlike the stump in my yard, this useless block of wood would produce life. The stump of Jesse would become the “root of Jesse” (v.10). That root, in turn, would change the world forever.
As the weeks of Advent move us closer and closer to the celebration of Christmas, our focus turns to the root of Jesse. With hindsight, we can see how Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, coming to earth and making salvation possible for humanity. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah was the only hope for a nation wandering from God. The root of Jesse would bring new life to Israel and restore justice and righteousness to God’s people. He would do for them what no human leader could do.
Thankfully, Jesus didn’t just bring new life to the stump of Jesse. He offers spiritual renewal and hope to anyone who comes to Him. So whether you’ve never accepted His offer of salvation or you’re a Christ follower who isn’t really following the way you should, He will meet you where you are.
The root of Jesse can bring revival to any stump.