“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelations 22:16 (NIV)
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots, a Branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1 (NIV)
Yes, the Christmas story and the mission of Jesus are in those two verses. In Matthew and Luke, the story is told and each writer includes a genealogy of Jesus. Matthew uses David as a connection point for his Hebrew audience. The number fourteen (symbolizes David) and his inclusion of women in the lists of names show Jesus to the people in many ways. Luke speaks to his Gentile reader(s) by using a slightly different look in the family tree (probably Mary’s) and goes back to the Garden and the first Adam. Luke’s genealogy includes the “common” members of the family, while Matthew has the Patriarchs, the Kings, and the “common” people.
Using the picture of roots, stumps, and branches allows for interesting symbolism.
Our two verses show the root of David, which is Jesse, and the root of Jesse, which is the tribe of Judah, and the root of Judah is Jesus. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke help here! But if you like the rest of the story turn to First Chronicles 2:3 – 17. This really starts in Numbers 26:19 and Genesis 38 especially verses 27 – 30. The story starts with Judah, who could hand out hard verdicts but did not do well in the receiving department. Perez was the first one completely out but the second-born son because Zerah stuck his arm “out” first. (This is a strange picture of being the “first and the last”.) It is his family line through Ram that produced the leaders of the Tribe of Judah. Jesse was the “head man” of the tribe and should have been one of the “panicked elders” when Samuel showed up in their town. (I wrote Cut Jesse Some Slack, BECAUSE!) That would have put Eliab, by birth, as the next in line for the leadership of the tribe of Judah. In reading 1 Samuel 16 and 1 Chronicles 2:13 – 17 you get a whole picture of Jesse’s family. The two lists of sons don’t match and it may be that one died as David is #7 in Chronicles and #8 in 1 Samuel.
A few thoughts as a teacher and a gardener to show the importance of the root.
- It is the first part to show up when the Seed is covered with water. It absorbs the water to convert the stored energy into the rest of the plant.
- I have to include Genesis 1:2 – the Spirit was over the water, God did a lot with water in Genesis 1. Baptism is also a must, you leave the old man under the surface and the new man comes out.
- Roots anchor a plant. It really is the biggest part of the plant as it spreads out in the soil working to take in water and other nutrients.
Jonathan Cahn in his Book of Mysteries series talks about Matthew 2:23 where Jesus fulfills the prophecies that Jesus would be a Nazarene. (Video on YouTube) The root word for Nazareth/Nazarene is netzer which means branch. So, Isaiah 11:1, Zechariah 3:8, and Jeremiah 23:5 are those prophetic announcements.
I will not start “splitting hairs” about stems, trunks, etc. because I just have a feeling it is more about the foundation (roots) and what is growing above (branch). Jesus in John 15 and Paul in Romans 11 also lean into this way of looking at a plant.
In John 15 Jesus calls Himself the vine and we are the branches – we have to be connected to Him. Romans 11 has us as branches being grafted into “the olive tree” so we can grow.
Branches are for reproduction; the fruit will form on them. So, if we look at Jesus as the Branch – He was to produce fruit. If we consider ourselves as the branch, we must produce fruit!
Revelations 22:16 puts Jesus in two positions – The Root and the Branch. The symbolism and its examples in this thought could go on for a while. (You may have the privilege.) If I focus on just plants I will give you this – Jesus is the alpha and omega, the beginning (roots), and the end (branch).
Fruit Wheat or oak trees, a plant is about producing fruit (or seed). Good fruit, bad fruit, or not producing fruit there are many parables about fruit in the Gospels. We always tend to think of the fruit of the Spirit, but in context with my Kingdom series is Matthew 21:43 – the kingdom of God can be taken from you and given to people who will produce ITS fruit.