6th December – Isaiah 11:1-10
On first reading this passage I was reminded of an Advent carol, ’O Come O come Emmanuel’, and its second verse ‘O come, thou Rod of Jesse…’ The passage from Isaiah 11 is subtitled ‘The Branch From Jesse’ (NIV) and if we refer to Matthew 1:6 the lineage of Jesus is listed, with Jesse described as the Father of David. Isaiah 11 talks of the ‘shoot’ that will come up from the stump of Jesse (v1a) and of the ‘Branch’. I think it is using these different terms (shoot, branch) to describe Jesus, the Messiah, who will come. We recall that a shoot is usually weak, small and tender and that is how Jesus, the Messiah, came to us, as a baby – weak, small and tender.
This is a passage which tells us what is going to happen and it is helpful for us to be reminded that what was prophesied did indeed take place. ‘From his roots a branch will bear fruit’ (v1b) and here I think the passage is prophesying how the Holy Spirit will come and bear fruit in Jesus’ life. It is good to be reminded that this passage is relevant for us today: the Holy Spirit can bear fruit in our lives too.
From verse 2 onwards there is a description of the fruits of the Spirit which will come including wisdom, understanding, mighty knowledge and fear of the Lord. Verses 3 and 4 then describe how this shoot, Jesus, will live and therefore perhaps how we might wish to live our lives: not judging by what we see, or deciding by what we hear, but with righteousness and justice. The passage culminates in describing that when the Messiah comes again there will be peace at last (verses 6 to 9) and all aggression in nature will be removed and the wolf will be able to live with the lamb.
Thank you Jesus, Messiah, that your coming which was prophesied in Isaiah, took place. Thank you that you came into the world as a baby, small, weak and tender. Thank you that the Holy Spirit can work through us today, making us strong, just as it bore fruit in your life.
May we always aim to live our lives with righteousness and justice, empowered by the Holy Spirit. May our greatest joy be to obey the Lord.
During this time of Advent may we wait with expectancy, preparing ourselves for your second coming, so that we are ready to pray ‘O come O come Emmanuel’.