Blog Archives

Sunday 8 December 2013 (Advent 2) – A root, a shoot from Jesse

Readings:  Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12


So who is this Jesus?

Let’s clear the matter up today!

1.       Descendent of Jesse

The root of Jesse is a fascinating image. I asked a friend in America to sketch it for me – that picture from Isaiah 11:1. This is what she came up with: (Credit – she used the ornament from a book called “The greatest gift” by Ann Voskamp).


Jesse – was the father of David and his brothers, whom the prophet Samuel came to – to choose a King for Israel. You may remember the day – all the sons of Jessie were paraded before the prophet – but the real King was off the page. David was not even there – almost forgotten, or ignored. He was looking after sheep.

The descendant of Jesse – David – the youngest brother missed in the selection process – became this great King – enigmatic, vulnerable, tempted, courageous and brave. A man after God’s own heart.

Listen again: Isa 11:1  A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

2.       A Son of David filled with and directed by the Spirit

Isaiah goes on: Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—

Jesus was exactly that – this amazing man who was God – and became a vulnerable man tempted in every way life David and like us, except without sin – this Jesus was empowered by the Spirit of God from His baptism. (Matthew 4:1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.)

As should we. We can’t be like him or bring in His Kingdom that we are told to seek – without the Spirit’s power!

In fact Matthew in chapter 12 gives us this amazing account, which we sometimes forget:

 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.

All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?

And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (22-28)

It was by the Spirit of God that this Son of David took on the powers of darkness – withstood the devil’s temptations in the wilderness – and fulfilled His mission.

3.       This Son of Jesse and Son of David is the Son of God who lives out of that relationship

Isa 11:3  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; Isa 11:4  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.

Isa 11:5  Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist

There is a familiar feel about this too. This Jesus (son of Jessie, son of David, led by the spirit) manifests the qualities that we associate with God – righteousness and justice, and judgment). And He has an ear towards heaven.

Remember Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel:

Joh 5:30  By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Joh_8:16  But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.

And especially this passage: Joh 12:48  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. Joh 12:49  For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.

And this: Joh 14:10  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Joh 14:11  Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

4.        The root of Jesse, the Son of David filled and directed by the Spirit, The Son of God living out of a relationship with the Father, brings peace.

Isaiah goes on to prophecy: Isa 11:5  Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. Isa 11:6  The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Isa 11:7  The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Isa 11:8  The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.

If hope does not galvanise you – then perhaps peace will:

One writer (Pastor Vince Gerhardy) put it well in these words: The lamb is normally lunch for the lion. Likewise, the goat is a snack for the leopard. Animals that don’t normally get on – eat together and rest side by side in peace. And what is more “a child will lead them”. Animals that we would hardly describe as suitable pets for a child – wolves, leopards, lions and snakes are play mates for a little child.

This vision of peace is remarkable.

It’s the impossible. I have to say that having heard of the death of President Nelson Mandela on Friday morning – I began to think about what was clearly the impossible in the country of my birth – the possibility of people sitting together and not killing each other was remote –  a dream – peace which like faith was the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen.

South Africans have begun ten days of mourning – and so they should. Mandela will always be an icon of reconciliation and peace. And he’s just a man!

Jesus – on the other hand – is THE prince of Peace!

This prophetic vision is summed up in the most beautiful poetic line: Isa 11:9  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Like the hope we shared about last week being vested in and found in Zion – out of which came His powerful word – reminding us that our relationship with God is the source of all we need – that worship is at the heart of all we are – here Isaiah points to the holy mountain of God.

And then this line:  for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

And finally: Isa 11:10  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.

Paul picks up on this in his letter to the Romans,  in the context of the need for a spirit of unity and mutual acceptance in the church and a discussion of the Gentiles: Rom 15:12  And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”  The ”nations” In Isaiah 11:10 are the GOYIM – the unbelieving non-Jews or Gentiles.

5.      This root of Jesse, Son of David, Son of God empowered by the Spirit – who brings peace in impossible situations – unites all God’s people under a banner – a common name and heritage – followers of Jesus!

This is what this season is about – Advent is about preparing  for this most amazing arrival!

Handing out invites to the Christmas services yesterday was an interesting thing. The invitation had the services of four churches listed – a great sign of unity. But looking into the faces of those receiving the invites – this city of ours with every nation right here – Jesus will stand as a banner for all peoples – he did already!

On the cross! He said: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32  LOOK AT THE IMAGE AGAIN:


“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10-11).

They choose to now. In time they most certainly will bow before him.