O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all His people, come to save us without delay!
Who is Jesse?
Jesse is the father of King David.
And long ago, God promised that the Messiah would come through the line of Jesse.
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, and the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord…”
It is a stump because there would come a time when, from all appearances, the line of David would seem dead (a “stump” is what remains when a tree has been cut down). But from this would come a shoot. This shoot would prove that the line of David had continued to survive – the tree may have been cut down but it was not without life. This shoot would come forth bringing new life. This shoot would become a branch and would be the Messiah (which means “the Anointed One”).
This prophecy is one important reason that Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, begins his Gospel with a genealogy. Matthew demonstrates that Jesus is not only a descendant of Abraham (as such the promised offspring that would bring the world blessings) but also a descendant of Jesse and David. Matthew emphasizes that this line of priest-kings from David never ended. Even during the time of exile and in the times of war, when not everyone in Israel was even aware of who was the rightful descendant of David, God knew. And generation after generation the family of David never ceased and continued until, in the 1st century during the reign of Herod, Jesus was born from the line of David – the long awaited Messiah, the shoot that comes from Jesse’s stump!
We see Jesus and His ancestors – His human family – these were real people. And we see that because of love, Jesus – the Second Person of the Trinity – entered time and history and became man (became Incarnate)! Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and the streets of Jerusalem. Ultimately, because of love, Jesus suffered and died to redeem humanity, making salvation possible for all. And Jesus entered into the Jewish culture and way of life but then took all that God had revealed through the Scriptures (Old Testament) and transformed the Jewish faith – not abolishing it but fulfilling it. The prophecies and feasts and practices were elevated and a new way of life was established by Christ Himself – “The Way” as it was called early on. This new way of life was based on a new covenant that God made with all humanity through Christ and it was open to all Jews and Gentiles who chose to follow Christ. And this is still the case today – the covenant family of God is open to ALL people!
The Church – the New Israel of God – and her members are to be lights to the world showing all people the love, joy, peace and happiness that comes in knowing God. We are to share the Good News of Jesus with everyone. Those who have faith, repent and then follow Christ in faithfulness, obedience and love enter into this new covenant. Paul discusses this in Romans demonstrating that this new covenant is open to all people but Paul also reminds Christians that we cannot be proud, presumptuous or take grace for granted or we could remove ourselves from the covenant (Rom 11). Paul uses the image of Jesus being the vine and we are the branches. Jews who become Christians are the original branches coming forth from the vine. But if they do not believe or are disobedient those branches will be cut off. Those who are “Gentiles” (non-Jews) who become Christians are like wild olive branches who have been grafted into the vine but Paul warns that they too must persevere in faith and obedience or they too could be cut off. Now that Christ has come, He has brought forth the blessing of grace to all humanity. All are called to be united to Christ the vine. Once we abide in Christ we must then remain in grace which enables us to persevere in faith and love. Then after our death we can enjoy the eternal reward of inconceivable happiness, love, joy and peace being united to God forever.