There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)
In my grandmother’s backyard grew a beautiful orchid tree with white bark and leaves shaped like butterflies. Each Easter it was loaded with large, delicate flowers—purple and lilac and magenta, floating through the air to land on the grass.
I loved that tree. But after my grandparents moved, the new owner cut it down. How sad I was!
That’s similar to what God is talking about here, when He mentions the stump of Jesse. Jesse was the father of King David and of the royal line of Judah, which fell out of power when the Babylonians took everyone into exile. The royal line was no beautiful tree anymore. It was a stump—a dead tree, chopped down by its enemies.
But there is this about a tree—sometimes, if you wait long enough, the trunk will sprout again. The roots are still alive underground, and water will make them grow. In a few years, the tree is right back where it was—tall, green, fruitful.
What about King David’s family—the line God said would always sit on the throne of God’s people? Was it gone forever? No. When the Judeans returned from exile, Jesus’ ancestors were among them. They weren’t royal anymore. Soon they were shepherds, craftsmen, shopkeepers—ordinary folk. But they never forgot God’s promise. And in the end, Jesus was born.
Jesus is that one lovely green shoot coming from what looks like a dead stump in the ground. Not just for David’s family, but for the whole human race—all of us, ruined by sin and under the power of death. But Jesus is our hope and salvation. He is our life-giver. By taking our death upon Himself, He has given new life to us—to everyone who trusts in Him. We will live again, forever—in God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are our hope and our life. Thank You. Amen.
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
First published December 5, 2021
* Have you ever seen a stump come back to life again?
* How do you find hope in the middle of grief?
* When have you seen God bring new life out of something you thought was dead?
(To view the entire “Advent Devotions” mini-series, please click here.)