Summary: Jesus isn't just like an ambulance rushing to our rescue, he's also like a resort shuttle bus, for he is coming to take us to paradise.
Take a look at the two vehicles pictured on the screen. Which one is more like Jesus? The ambulance or the Disney-resort shuttle bus? On one hand since Jesus comes to rescue us from our sins and from eternal death, you could say that he’s like the ambulance. On the other hand Jesus didn’t just come to patch us up before dropping us back into our humdrum lives. He is coming again to take us to a wonderful place called heaven. So you could say that he’s also like the shuttle bus from a Disney resort. Today the prophet Isaiah wants to impress upon us this second truth, that the advent or coming of Jesus means the advent of Eden—that garden of Paradise where Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with all before the fall into sin. Today’s sermon text should give you hope and encouragement as you slog through life on this sin-wrecked earth.
The prophet Isaiah knew well that kind of world. In his day, 700 years before the time of Christ, the rich took advantage of the poor, women bossed their husbands around, men boasted about how much they could drink, and many didn’t even pretend to worship the true God. King Ahaz went as far as shutting and locking the doors of the temple! God was not going to stand idly by, however, as his people mocked him. He was going to use Assyria and Babylon as his chainsaws to mow down the proud and arrogant of Judah. The royal line of David itself would be reduced to nothing but a stump. That happened when the Babylonians captured the last king of Judah, killed his sons before him, and then put his eyes out before dragging him to Babylon.
The way that God dealt with Judah is the way that he will also deal with us if we’re not careful. Like the people of Judah, we know well God’s laws. We have the advantage of getting to hear and learn his Word often. But we are also tempted to go through the motions of worship. We’re led to believe that as long as we show up on Sunday morning then it’s OK to lie our way through the week when we give excuses for why we didn’t get our homework done. Instead of repenting for our outbursts we excuse them by blaming the ineptness of others. But God will not stand idly by as we dig ourselves deeper in sin. He will intervene and will cut us down to size because that’s how much he loves us. He would rather we suffer now for a little while, than suffer eternally in hell because we threw away his love like a shoe that doesn’t fit anymore.
Yes, God would cut down the family line of King David because they had forsaken him, but that wouldn’t be the end of the matter. It couldn’t be the end because God had promised that a savior would be born from that family line. And so God gave this glimmer of hope through the prophet Isaiah when he said: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). Jesse is of course the father of King David. So even though that family line seemed dead with the exile of King Zedekiah, in time, there would be new life. A new king would arise from humble beginnings. He would be nothing more than a shoot barely noticed by others. But it’s also clear that he would be no ordinary person, for Isaiah went on to prophesy about him: “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist” (Isaiah 11:2-5).