Giving Shalom: Advent Day 18

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
   yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
   the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
   the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
He will delight in obeying the LORD.
   He will not judge by appearance
   nor make a decision based on hearsay.
He will give justice to the poor
   and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
   and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. (Isaiah 11:1–4 NLT)

In his book Mercy Streets, author and pastor Taylor Field tells a story of a tree that he and his wife transplanted from some unwanted space into the center of their backyard in New York City. They watched this tree transform from a small weed into a growing plant, until one winter day a utility worker callously broke the tree in two just for a laugh. Field and his wife lamented the death of this tree they had cared for and nurtured since it had been a small and unwanted weed, until the next Easter morning when they looked out the window to spot a small sprig growing where the trunk had been broken. As Field says, “This little tree was becoming strong in the place that seemed like an amputation.” That tree continued to thrive as it doubled and then tripled in height.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was a new Branch from the old root of David’s family. Though the Davidic line had not been ended, there had been no kingdom to rule—no throne to sit on—since Judah’s exile into Babylon, thus David’s family had become a stump, a shadow of its former self during the glory days of a united kingdom. Jesus was a fresh sprig growing out of the stump, a branch that would become a tree even stronger, more far-reaching, and longer-lasting than the original. In a similar fashion, Jesus brings us new life where we were once dead in our sin. Is there some area of your life that would grow anew if you allowed Christ and His way to take root there? What do you need to do to allow this area to thrive under the care of Jesus?