Summary: This is an Advent sermon.
Read Isaiah 11:1-10.
Jesus turned the world upside down, or more appropriately, right side up. People never really understood Jesus. Paul said, “For those who live in Jerusalem…did not recognize him” (Acts 13:27). Everyone expected a military-political leader. Jesus closest disciples didn’t even get it. When Jesus was about to return to heaven, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” (Acts 1:6). We have here, in the prophet Isaiah, a picture of world that runs counter to conventional thinking. We have several things
A. Fruitful STUMP
Have you ever seen a stump bear fruit? Stumps are often nuisances. They get in the way. We trip on them.
I once cut down a dead tree that later produced all these shoots out of it.
David had been promised that the Messiah would come through his line. When Isaiah was writing this, the line of David was becoming corrupt, and would soon pass from prominence. It would become a stump in the pages of the history books.
Jesus was the shoot that shot out of the stump. “And Joseph also went …to the city of David, which called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David” (Luke 2:4). The prophet Micah said, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (5:2). Jesse was a nobody from a no-place town.
God chose a nobody to start the line that would produce the Messiah.
God also cut down the line of David, so Jesus would come from a humble line.
B. Fair JUSTICE
Justice is often for the wealthy. The poor, while provided with lawyers, often don’t get the fairest shake. This is especially true in corrupt regimes. Justice is often for those who can afford it. Recent examples of Martha Stewart, O. J. Simpson and Kobe Bryant cause people to be skeptical about the fairness of the justice system.
The Messiah would usher in a time when he would judge fairly. He won’t judge the way mankind judges. People judge based on sight and sound. Even the most impartial judge or jury comes to a case with a certain point of view. We cannot be fair. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see.
God’s justice is fair for the disadvantaged and for the wicked. The disadvantaged won’t be left out. The wicked also won’t escape justice. The wealthy CEO will stand on the level as John Q. Public.
C. Fierce PETS
Verses 6-8 offer a picture that is contrary to all that we experience in our world. We watch nature shows where we see leopards and lions hunting prey and mangling them. We see cartoons where Wile E. Coyote hunts sheep and the Road Runner.
Verse 8 is especially fearful for parents. We would never allow our kids to play with a poisonous snake. A lot of people don’t even like rubber snakes. This goes way back. In Genesis 3:15 we read, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Snakes are perhaps the most feared animals, except perhaps by “The Crocodile Hunter.” On our honeymoon, we went to a place called Reptile Gardens, and Tammy hated it.
Some see this passage as metaphorical. They see it as a metaphor for human relations. That would mean that people will get along with those they don’t like. The Klansman will socialize with the Black Panther. The communist will embrace the capitalist. That leads us to…
D. Full RECONCILIATION
Paul wrote, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
We are reconciled to God through Christ. We are also to be reconciled to others. That only comes through Jesus.
Verse 10 says, “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.”
A signal is a banner. It is a rallying point. Francis Scott Key wrote The Star Spangled Banner when he saw it still flying over Fort McHenry. It was a rallying point.
Jesus stands as our rallying point. People from every nation are followers of his. People from every race follow him. People from every language follow him. In Christ we are rallied and reconciled. The people in a house church in China are our brothers and sisters. The people in the small hut-type church in Africa are our brothers and sisters. The people in a church on the side of a mountain in Ecuador are our brothers and sisters.