A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
There was once a mighty tree, strong and wide and beautiful and tall. It was the kind of tree that looked as if it could withstand any trouble, any wind, or any storm.
But then something went wrong. The mighty tree grew weak. The leaves withered. Bugs infested the bark. Finally, one day, that once-mighty tree fell. Someone hauled the wood away. And there, where that giant tree had once stood, all that was left was a stump.
This is the image God used to explain what had happened to his Old Testament people, Israel. He had chosen them to be his own special people. He had blessed them. He had made them into a mighty nation. But they failed to appreciate all he had done. They went their own way rather than his way. Even their kings who ought to have led them toward God, led them instead away from God. So, God allowed Israel’s enemies to overtake them. What had once been a strong, proud people was now nothing more than a stump.
But, in the midst of this misery God gave his people a promise. Out of the stump of Israel, a strong shoot would arise. The shoot’s name was Jesus Christ.
Isaiah’s prophecy promised that the shoot named Jesus would bear fruit. And what remarkable fruit he bears! He gives spiritual life to sinfully dead people like us by forgiving our sins and reuniting us to our heavenly Father.
This time of year, as you prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, marvel that your good God kept the promise he made through the prophet Isaiah. Be thankful that he did not give up on his people and leave them a worthless stump. Take comfort in knowing that he used them to send the world a Savior—your Savior.
Lord, thank you for keeping your promise to send the world a Savior. Comfort me this day knowing that he is my Savior. Amen.