Advent Devotional: Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Who Is God and Lord of All

December 22, 2019

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. –Isaiah 11:1-2 (see Isaiah 11:1-9)

Buy a plant from a nursery, and it comes with a small stick with instructions on how to care for it and information on how the plant will grow. The first five verses of Isaiah 11 are like a plant stick for the Messiah, explaining how he will save his people from their sins and become the Branch who will one day blossom and bear fruit. 

In verse one, we learn that the Branch started as a shoot from the stump of Jesse, the father of King David. The people of God had been chopped down by the judgment of God, and only the bare remnant of a stump remained.

If there was to be a true King and a true Messiah for a true Israel, then God had to make a new beginning. Where once there had been only hard, rough wood, a new and tender shoot would grow.

Jesus was the branch from the stump. When the child was born in Bethlehem, Herod was king, and he wasn’t even an Israelite, let alone the proper successor of King David. And so, when Mary welcomed her firstborn into “a lowly cattle shed” and laid him “in a manger for his bed,” he sprang up like a fresh shoot, a new and unexpected growth from the broken stump of Israel’s kingship.

But the Christ Child did not remain a shoot for long. The twig became a sapling, and then a full branch, just as Isaiah had promised. What kind of fruit did he bear?

Filled with the strength of the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus received wisdom, understanding, counsel and power, and knowledge and the fear the Lord—all the spiritual qualities that make him a wise teacher, an insightful friend, a just king, and an obedient Son, even unto death, leading to life eternal.

Reflective Question

What areas of your life need pruning so that fresh growth might emerge through the life-giving work of Jesus Christ?

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