Jesse’s Branch Brings Righteousness

By Ron Harrison
Isaiah 11:1-10

A sign was seen in a department store, “Make this the best Christmas ever.” I say, “What’s wrong with the first one?”…….. Look around.  Society daily reminds us very vividly that we are in the Christmas Season. And the church reminds us, as believers, that we are in the Advent Season. Let us pray. Lord, we pray that You would all turn our hearts and minds to this season of Advent.  Help us to experience the Hope and Peace and Joy and Love that happens when we look forward to Your Son’s coming. It is in His name we pray.  Amen…………..  In the Advent Season we look at the gifts that God has given to us and provided for us. We remind ourselves that Advent means “coming.” We prepare for the coming of our Savior as He is born in Bethlehem,  and we prepare for His coming as the Righteous Judge on the Last Day.  Maybe we have already been busy buying gifts and trying to find that perfect gift for the perfect person. I hope we all realize that there is no perfect gift on this side of heaven, because there is no perfect person on this side of heaven. So, it is important for us today,,,,,, as believers living in this sinful world,,,,, to remind ourselves of the perfect gifts that come only from God.  Last week we were reminded about God’s gift of Hope. Today, we are going to talk about the gift of Righteousness and Peace.  As we look at righteousness, we are reminded that the Lord knows exactly what we need and He provides us with those gifts.. James, in the 1st chapter, writes, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”.  Our needs,,,, our desires,,,,, and our wants–they may change;  the gifts that the Lord gives us do not change.  They are exactly what we need. ______________________________________  Isaiah began by describing this in our text today.  Isaiah says that Jesse’s Branch brings righteousness.  Jesse’s Branch, of course, is Jesus Himself. Jesse’s Branch brings righteousness from humble beginnings.  In the 10th chapter of Isaiah, the one before today’s reading, we find Isaiah proclaiming the Lord’s judgment against Assyria and against Israel.  Assyria was a powerful nation that one day would destroy Israel and that would be the end of Assyria. The Lord would punish them. They would no longer rise again to be a great nation.  That was God’s judgment.  For Israel it was the same thing–they too would face God’s judgment–defeat at the hands of their enemies. ____________________________________ In the parable of the unfruitful tree, Jesus wanted to demonstrate the patience of God.  For three years, the tree remained unfruitful, and the owner wanted to cut it down. But the man who took care of the vineyard asked for one more year. Then he said, “if it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”  This was the case of the Southern Kingdom of Israel.  In 722 B.C., God “cut down” , so to speak, the Northern Kingdom, by sending in the Assyrian army to wipe them out.  Ever since its inception by a rebel slave named Jeroboam, this Northern Kingdom was unfaithful to God…………  This action against them was supposed to be a warning to the Southern Kingdom.    For over a hundred years, the Lord had given them “one more year.” This Southern Kingdom had shown some hope. Occasionally, it had a faithful king who wanted to reform the people.  All of those hopes went crashing down when the evil Ahaz was crowned as king.  Even though he was evil, he reigned during a very prosperous time for Israel. Their economy was good.  They didn’t have any nearby enemies to really threaten them.  Yet they failed to realize that, without God on their side, they had no future.  So, with the Southern Kingdom, God would eventually have His fill of this tree, also.  Even though it was about 400 years old, it would be time for God to chop some wood. The Babylonians came and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.  Many were exiled into Babylon.   The family of David, the royal house of Judah, looked like a cut-down tree with nothing but the stump remaining……………. The sad thing about this whole history was that it DIDN’T HAVE to be that way.  We could be looking at the great history of the Israelites – how their kingdom lasted for generations and expanded throughout the Middle East.  We could be talking today about how Jesus was born in a royal palace to royalty!  But the Israelites, the descendants of David, didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.  They wanted to worship other gods.  They wanted to produce thorns instead of figs. So, Isaiah’s prediction for today said that Jesse’s tree would only be a “stump”.  In other words, this reign of kings that descended from David would be chopped off, made into firewood, toast. Jesus would be born of Jesse’s STUMP – poor little old Jesse, the father of David, but just a common farmer. But there would be more for Israel. Today, in chapter 11, we hear the Lord’s promise, a promise, that from what is remaining in Israel, a Messiah would be born. From verse1: 1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit……. Picture, if you will, that yellow rose bush outside by the sidewalk. Remember what happened? Someone cut it down; what was left just a stump. It just sat there for a while. Stumps don’t have much use to anyone. That stump was like what was left of Israel. That nation was not great anymore. It had been destroyed, and all that was left were stumps. We could have dug up that rose stump, but we left it there………… And, from a stump in Israel, we are told that a shoot will come, that a Righteous Branch will come out of the roots.  That Righteous Branch from Jesse, from the house and line of David, is Jesus Himself…………. _______________________________________ From that stump outside our door, a shoot appeared. And, from that shoot, a branch appeared……….. __________________________________________ From those humble beginnings, from the stump of Jesse, Jesus is described in verse 2: The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–. Then Isaiah gives us three phrases that describe the Spirit of the Lord resting on the shoot of the Righteous Branch— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,  the Spirit of counsel and of power,  the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. ______________________________________  This Spirit of wisdom and understanding would rest upon Jesse’s branch. Jesus would know and understand God’s people.  The Spirit of counsel and of power– so Jesus would have strength to help God’s people.  He adds the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord so that He would know God’s will for God’s people.  This is the Righteous Branch…………….  Isaiah finishes verse 3 by saying: and he will delight in the fear of the LORD, not the fear of men but the fear of the Lord. Jesse’s Righteous Branch is not going to be like any other person that is born, is He?  He is not going to come and look at justice in the way that the world would look at justice  or the way that we might look at justice.  Isaiah says, He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears……..  So, Isaiah says that when the Savior is born, He is going to rule with righteousness and justice.  We see that as Jesus lived on this earth, the Scribes and Pharisees, who were leaders of God’s church, opposed Him.  No matter,,,,,,,,, Jesus always took His stand on the side of truth, righteousness and justice. Isaiah continues: 4but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth…. 5Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. Even with humble beginnings this Righteous Branch of David would bring righteousness to the world, a righteousness that had not been seen before! When we look at the words of Isaiah and when we look at the words of other prophets in the Old Testament,  we see very clearly that what happened on that first Christmas were very humble beginnings for this Righteous Branch.  For this One who would change the world, He came in a very quiet and humble way.  The Prophet Micah describes it for us: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”(MICAH 5:2).  Bethlehem was just a small village, not a very important town and not like Jerusalem where the people worshiped,  Yet, this is where the Righteous Branch would come from, come with righteousness and justice for all people.  In fact, as we know from the Gospels, there was no room for Him in the inn, & Jesus was born in a stable.  Quite a humble beginning for the Savior of the world.  Yet, it made Him no less a Savior than what God intended Him to be. We turn to the Prophet Jeremiah: ’The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ’when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land’“(JEREMIAH 23:5).  Do you see what all these prophecies together are saying?  Isaiah talks about the root of Jesse, the stem from that stump, which will come forth.  Jeremiah says a righteous Branch from David, a descendant of Jesse, will be a king–Jesus the King. And Micah speaks of the small, dusty town of His birth.  Sometimes, it is easy for the world around us to see all of these things:  to see that Jesus was born in Bethlehem;  that He lived and walked on the earth;  That He was the Son of Mary and Joseph; That He was the carpenter’s son;  That He taught and did many good things…………. ___________________________________________  Then the world tends to stop there. They forget the rest of what Isaiah says— that the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom,,,, knowledge,,,,, understanding,,,,, counsel,,,,, power,,,,, and the list goes on. With the Spirit of the Lord resting on Him, it is not just as if Jesus had that Spirit, He was the very Son of God. When we look in the New Testament, we find, at Jesus’ baptism, the testimony given that He was more than just someone from Nazareth. He was more than just a preacher walking around on the dusty paths visiting different synagogues.  At Jesus’ baptism we are told: “And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven (which was the Heavenly Father): ’You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’”(LUKE 3:22). This infant born in Bethlehem was the King, and was and is still is God’s very own Son.  Jesus is Jesse’s Branch that brings, not just righteousness with humble beginnings, but also with miraculous results because He is God’s Son. And our rose branch outside the door also bore fruit, a rose. __________________________________________ The rest of the verses of Isaiah describe for us a peace that only the Prince of Peace can provide.  Again, as we look at it, we remember that it is not necessarily a physical matter he is talking about, but spiritual. Isaiah says: 6The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. We know really that if we put the wolf with a lamb, he will eat the lamb when hungry.  It is the same with the leopard who will also devour the goat. It would be hard for any small child to lead any of these wild animals or even tame ones. What is the Lord reminding us of? He is reminding us that this Righteous Branch is going to come with faithfulness and righteousness and peace,  even though, on this earth, there is no peace and there will not be peace. But still He is able to provide peace for mankind’s soul. Verse 7: The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Physically, it isn’t going to happen,,,,,,,, unless God wants it to, of course,,,, because God can make all things happen,  both physically and spiritually.  In verse 8: The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. We know there is still danger from many snakes if any of us put our hands in the mouth or near the mouth of a snake. The snake will bite. What is the Lord talking about?  Isaiah tells us in verse 9: They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. All these parables are about God’s peace………….. God’s holy mountain refers to His Church.  In His Church, the believers are going to find peace.  In His church, believers are going to find a peace, where the serpent, Satan himself, can no longer harm His believers.  They will understand the knowledge of the Lord. Then Isaiah continues: In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. Remember, from last week, how rivers of believers will flow up to God’s mountain. Christ Jesus being born in Bethlehem, even though it should have gone unnoticed, it did not.  Angels announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds.  The shepherds went and saw and told everyone, and all nations rallied to Him. Rivers of people flowed up to God’s mountain.  God had provided His Son as salvation, not just for the children of Israel, but also for the whole world.  Those miraculous results cause us to be saved today. We are saved even though we are not, at first, God’s chosen people. We were not of the house of David.  We were not descended as Abraham’s children.. But, today we are the children of Abraham, by our faith.  So, the Lord miraculously saves us. Paul describes this in Corinthians: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”(2 CORINTHIANS 5:21). He calls us “God’s righteousness.” When we look closely at ourselves, we see that we are filled with our own sinfulness. But God miraculously sends His Son to be born in Bethlehem and to live and die on the cross that you and I might live forever.  These are the miraculous results— Even though we do not deserve eternal life, we have been given it.  Even though we cannot earn eternal life, we have been given it.  In the Book of Romans, chapter 3: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”(ROMANS 3:22-24). That’s powerful stuff, and those are the miraculous results of the Baby born at Bethlehem. You and I are saved by the work of Christ:  His redemption of us by grace,,,,,,,,,,,,, His undeserved love for us,,,,,,,,,,,, His blood which atones for all of our sins.  We are reminded of all that today in His Word.  We are reminded of that today in His Sacrament where in, with and under the bread and wine, the Lord gives us His very own body and blood as a pledge and seal of His forgiveness to us. And our lives are changed! Our lives are dramatically changed so that when the world around us is hustling and bustling around  and acting like there is no time left in getting ready for Christmas, you and I can be reserved and calm and relaxed and realize, in our hearts, we are ready. We are preparing ourselves once again to celebrate the joyous birth of a Savior. We are excited and anxious, not so much to open up those gifts or to get all those things done, but to realize God’s gift to us.  That is God’s Light that shines on us in a dark world. Peter writes: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed”(1 PETER 2:24). He reminds us that by the wounds of Christ, by the nail prints in His hands and His feet, the sword in His side, we have been healed.  Because of that,,,, then,,,, we can live,,,, not for ourselves,,,, not for the desires of the sinful world,,,,, but for righteousness. God’s righteousness has come to each and every one of us by grace. Jesse’s Branch, the Savior of the world and our personal Savior, brings righteousness, and He brings peace. Peace is another one of God’s perfect gifts that we need. God’s righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, now covers us and our sinfulness. Now when we look ahead, when we gaze into the future, we realize that heaven is ours because of what Christ has done for us. We should realize that from very humble beginnings in that town of Bethlehem, but with very miraculous results, that, only not you and I are saved, but believers in the entire world, look forward to eternity. That shoot—- from the stump of Jesse— gave us the perfect gifts—- of Righteousness and of Peace,,,,,,,,,,,, forever. Amen  

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