The Root, The Branch, The Fruit – The Christmas Story

“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 is 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 allow for interesting symbolism.

The Root

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 stuck his arm “broke 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. 

The Branch 

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, it is our duty to produce fruit!

Both 

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.

Christmas Verses – The First Coming #14

Isaiah 11:1 NIV

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Verse 1 – 9 is a beautiful discourse that tells of Jesus, the gifts of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12:7), and things that will occur during His reign. This is one of six verses in the Bible that refer to “the Branch.”  This one stands different in that it uses the word nester for branch, and this Branch is coming from Jesse, David’s father.  Verse ten continues using Jesse as the source instead of David.  The fact that the metaphors of roots and stumps are used must have galled the royal family, because it means that they will be cut down!

This metaphor of trees and forest being destroyed actually starts in 10:12, but here it is the king of Assyria and his people are the trees that are cut down.  10:17 identifies the “Light of Israel” as being the source of fire that will consume them.  Once again, the promise of the Messiah is nestled in the middle of an oracle of judgement.  This section closes with a praise song, all of chapter 12 is a beautiful praise about the Lord being our salvation and strength.  This section (Chapter 10 – 12) also uses the two forms of Lord. (See Lord/LORD.) (See Cut Jesse Some Slack)

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Cut Jesse Some Slack!!!!!

Cut Jesse Some Slack!!!!!

Having heard these sermons for several years now I can truthfully say we should cut Jesse some slack.  When Samuel anointed David as king, David was not there initially.  It has become the rage to blast Jesse for disrespecting his youngest son, the sermon this weekend included David’s mother in the “let’s hate David club.”  I am not sure what it would be like to be the youngest of eight sons, but I would bet the toughest of Jesse’s sons was David.  Why, he had seven bothers to fight with, that lion and bear never stood a chance.  I would guess that by the time he was anointed, David was the overachieving little brother who would not back down from anyone or anything.

Think about the day Samuel shows up in Bethlehem.  The town leaders were in panic mode, and they had to find Jesse and sons.  David, as the youngest, was tending the sheep, and probably left at first light.  A job every other brother had done when they were the youngest.  David may have been an hour or two walk from town by the time Jesse was told to come with his sons.

In our twentieth century, western mentality it was WRONG to leave David out.  What if it was just normal and practical to hurry to the sacrifice because it would have been rude to keep Samuel waiting three hours while they tried to find the pasture David was tending the sheep in?   Who knows, David may have been composing the 23 Psalm that morning, and it was inconvenient for him to leave in the middle of the tune!

In addition to all of that Jesse is mentioned forty-four times in the NIV.  God did not seem to upset about David’s treatment because in Isaiah 11: 1 and 10, and in Romans 15: 12 the term “the root of Jesse” is used to describe Jesus.  The term “root of David” is used twice in Revelations, chapter 5 and 22.

Okay, I do not know why David was not there to start with.  But this maybe one time to not westernize a Bible story to make a point that was not there.  Saul’s servant in 1 Samuel 16: 18 certainly had plenty of good things to say about David and I find it hard to believe that Jesse was not proud of all of his sons, especially the child of his old age.

In Samuel – The Anointing of David I look at it from Samuel’s side.  I believe it was a test for the old prophet to go and anoint a new king.

pic from:  http://clipart.christiansunite.com/1379673661/Bible_Characters_Clipart/David_Clipar