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a tiny shoot…

I hope it's a girl.
Creative Commons License photo credit: tanjila

Isaiah 11:1-2 (CEB)

A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse; a branch will sprout from his roots.

I love this translation, especially at Christmas time. I don’t know about you, but I have always heard the traditional KJV version of this verse – calling Jesus “the rod” of Jesse. And I guess I always pictured a steel metal rod, like a flag pole or an axle.

But nobody today calls little sprigs from a plant “a rod” anymore. So that word picture is totally lost on me until I read it in a more modern translation.

The prophet calls Jesus a tiny sprig, a little branch that grows from the mighty stump of Jesse – or in other words – a son of David.

Little David was the least among his brothers and nobody would have guessed that he would have been chosen to be King -  but even David’s homeland was “small” listen to how the prophet Micah says it…

Micah 5:2 (CEB)

As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days.

I think we sometimes read the gospels and project backwards and wonder why nobody recognized the son of God in their midst? How come the first people to worship the King of the Jews were pagan mystics (Matt 2:1-12)?

But then the prophets remind me that Jesus came from small and humble beginnings. Who notices a tiny shoot unless you’re looking?

I think as a pastor, I am constantly tempted to “go big!” I want my Sunday services to be over the top with technology, loud music and the latest graphics. But am I truly following my Savior if I am constantly trying to “yell above” the world? What if… in all my attempts to “go big” the tiny shoot gets missed?

I mean… especially now at Christmas time…. it’s all about Jesus. We don’t want the holly and the music and the lights to overshadow the tiny baby in the manger, do we?

When our visitors walk out of our services what do we want to hear them talking about at lunch? Our children’s program? Our amazing choir? Our beautiful bulletins? Our creative pastors?

Or like John, do we want them to exclaim, “Look, the lamb of God!” (John 1:29 CEB)


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  1. Chad Whitley says

    Without making too much of this, I’ve been fascinated with the thought of the shoot springing from the “stump” of Jesse. When I hear the word “stump,” I envision the broken, seemingly dead remains of a once mighty oak that has fallen prey to the sands of time and/or the blade of an axe. And if that picture is indeed true to Isaiah’s message, how miraculous it is that God brought life from what seemed to be death, and through that tiny sprig, gave life to all who would be grafted into Him. Just a thought. Thanks for posting; I’m digging the blog, and am especially enjoying your thoughts on the CEB. Keep up the good work.