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There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).

We were so excited when we brought the Christmas tree home, but it never went into the house until the next day. My Dad knew the tree would never last unless it soaked up plenty of sugar water. So he cut a few inches off the bottom and soaked it in sugar water until the next night. I still recall holding in my hands that piece of dead stump he had cut off. It was only an inch or two high, but it was definitely dead.

The Old Testament Lesson speaks about a dead tree stump, "There shall come forth shoot from the stump of Jesse."

Jesse was the father of King David and all his descendants who ruled over Judah-the Southern Kingdom. When those kings turned away from God to lead their people in the worship of false idols, the Lord cut off their kingship and sent His people into exile. The strong family tree was cut off and only a dead stump remained. For centuries not a single king rose from that stump to rule on their throne. All that could be seen was the dead stump of the line of David.

But in the fullness of time a shoot began to grow out of that stump. That shoot was Jesus Christ. He was born a baby and laid to sleep in Bethlehem's manger. He didn't come to claim any earthly kingdom as His own. Instead, he came as our King to battle our enemies: Satan, sin, death, and hell.

Though He Himself was cut down on the cross, and His lifeless body was laid in the tomb, Christ rose again from the grave with power and great glory. Through Baptism He makes us alive to God though we were dead in our sins. Through His Word He makes us wise in the ways of His salvation, and in Holy Communion He gives us His body and blood by which He paid for our sins and won our redemption. Now He lives to guide us on our journey to our heavenly home.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son as a tender shoot out of a dead tree stump. He has saved us from our sins and opened the Kingdom of heaven to us. Help us tell the whole world of His wonderful salvation. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

by Pastor Ken Klaus

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