Advent devotional: O Root of Jesse

This devotional was prepared by Pastor Aaron in connection with our sermon series on the O'Antiphons.

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.

Psalm 50
Isaiah 11.1-9
Romans 15.7-13

In Isaiah 11:1-9, the prophet references a stump of Jesse. Jesse is the father of King David — the former powerful, righteous king who led the nation of Israel to some of its highest heights. This is the King who had been promised by God that from his royal family line would come a King who would rule forever. The Lord promised that David’s throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).

But Isaiah imagines David’s family tree as nothing but a stump. The hope of the nation of Israel had been reduced to a stump. You see, generations after King David, at the time of Isaiah’s writing, things weren’t looking so good for David’s Kingdom. There had been evil king after evil king. The northern kingdom was defeated and in exile. The southern kingdom was at-risk of it.

But from out of that dead stump, Isaiah writes, a shoot will spring up. Things look bad. Hope seems lost. But watch out for the shoot, the prophet poet writes. The poem imagines from the roots of this stump will come a branch that will bear fruit.

This branch is a coming ruler, who will be filled with the Spirit and rule with wisdom, understanding and the fear of the Lord. This King will execute justice for the poor and the marginalized and bring peace to the earth.

As Christians, we believe this King came to earth as a baby born in Bethlehem. Jesus went on to heal the sick, proclaim freedom to those in bondage, set the demon-oppressed free and ultimately give his life away in love. But out of his stump-like death on a cross, He rose to life again and later ascended into heaven.

And now we wait with great anticipation for the second arrival of King Jesus to bring about His Kingdom of peace that is described in Isaiah 11. But in the meantime, we can have hope that Christ still comes to us now by His Spirit. We can have hope for today that out of the stumps in our lives, new life can spring up.

As we sit in the midst of a cold, dead winter, we long for the Root of Jesse to bring us new life. What in your life seems cold and lifeless? Where do you long to see Jesus bring newness or hope? Bring these longings to the Lord.

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