Sermons

Summary: Christ is victorious. From a stump to Savior.

The Triumph of the Savior: From a Stump!!

December 20, 2009

Isaiah 11:1-10

In 1928 the Great Depression was fast approaching, and as our country was enduring hard and uncertain times, people were looking for a messiah, someone who could save us. And in Louisiana, the messiah showed up . . . at least that’s what the voters believed.

In 1928, Huey Long was elected governor of Louisiana. He won the hearts of the people by speaking their language, using methods no one had tried before. Long was one of the first politicians to use the radio and sound trucks that would ride through the streets proclaiming Long as the hope of Louisiana.

During his campaign, Long drove over 15,000 miles across the state, mostly down unpaved back roads – meeting the working class who had never seen a political candidate face-to-face. And Huey Long made sure the people wouldn’t forget him.

He brought along his own band to warm up the crowd. And then he would take the platform like a possessed man, wearing his signature white linen suit. Long cast himself as the benevolent head of state, guaranteeing that there was plenty to go around if the corrupt politicians, the big business interests, the newspapers, and his opponents would just let go and share it. His campaign slogan was “Every man a king, but no one wears a crown.”

There was almost a messianic following for Long. His flamboyance and straight- talking manner made his promises feel real. Voters were captured by his rhetoric and political savvy. He won by the largest margin ever in Louisiana.

Long was fiercely hated by his opponents, and fiercely loved by the common people. He had his eye on the White House when he was assassinated at the age 42. His legacy continues in the political philosophies of Louisiana politics. And to this day, every time the LSU football team takes the field and the band plays “Touchdown for Louisiana,” they’re playing the fight song Huey Long wrote.

The people were looking for a deliverer and thought they found him. Long had a long list of accomplishments during his short political career. But like so many before and after him, he proved to be only human.

Like the people in Louisiana in the 1920s, the nation of Judah in Isaiah’s time was looking for a Messiah. They were faced with desperate circumstances. Their king had rejected God’s clear instructions and firm promises, forming political and military alliances with the Assyrians, only to see them backfire. There were only two options, death or deportation, and it was only a matter of time.

In difficult times our hearts reach out for something that transcends the limits of the moment — an escape, a deliverance, a way out. Our longings turn to cries of the heart: “Is there anybody out there who cares? Will Someone rescue me? Does God remember me?” That was the mood on the street in 700 BC Judah, in 1928 America, and in present day America.

Isaiah’s message gives us the final answer to those longings. Isaiah declared, God will send a Messianic King, who has the authority of the Holy Spirit. His name is Immanuel — God with us! Though His face is human, He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of peace. His mission is to heal the wounds of the brokenhearted, to release those held captive and imprisoned, and to restore what has been lost. This has been fulfilled by Jesus the Christ!

In Isaiah 11, the prophet takes us further, as He takes us past this earthly life and death. We speed beyond the year 2009 and don’t slow down until we come to a future day when the Messiah who came 2000 years ago, will reign over the entire earth. Isaiah holds up snapshots of what it will be like when Christ’s will is done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Why does the Holy Spirit, who gave Isaiah these visions of the future, want us to see this? Because we need to understand what kind of King we find in the manger of Bethlehem. In this Christmas week, whether you come with awe, and worship with the shepherds and magi, or shrug your shoulders like it’s no big deal, like Herod and his religious advisors, you need to know what you can expect from this infant King, named Jesus.

He came from poverty; so He understands what we’re going through.

Isaiah’s opening sentence tells us His earthly roots. Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

Think about that description? A stump, a stump is all that’s left of a tree that’s been cut down. Judah would become like a field of burned out stumps on the landscape of world history. But God would be faithful to His promises to His people.

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