The Rightous Branch

Read Isaiah 11:1-9 – Those of you who have visited our nation’s capital are aware that throughout that city, there are several statues of national and world leaders. Each statue faces the national Capitol as a symbol of honor and respect for the great power of our nation.

In front of the Wesley Theological Seminary, however, there stands a statue of English reformer, John Wesley, facing away from the Capitol. Those who placed the statue in this position did so to testify that no matter how powerful the leaders of this country might be, there is still another leader (Yahweh) whose power is far above that of mortal human beings.

The statue of John Wesley is a parabolic explanation of what the prophet was trying to communicate in today’s Scripture lesson. No matter how great and powerful the kings of Israel might be, there would still be another king, anointed by Yahweh, whose power would be unlimited and whose reign would be eternal.

The prophet announces that one day a great leader from the “stump of Jesse” will rise to power as Yahweh’s anointed sovereign. This messianic king will be able to accomplish all the things normally associated with a good king (vv 3-5) but he also will be able to accomplish feats no normal leader could ever hope to accomplish.

This great king will be able to make peace between enemies (even between the natural enemies of nature like the wolf and the lamb.) In fact, the entire world will be led by this king to the mountain of Yahweh where all people shall be instructed in the ways of peace and justice (v11).

The Christian confession of faith is that Isaiah’s vision of an ideal king and his kingdom was fulfilled in the advent of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus came announcing the arrival of Yahweh’s kingdom – the Kingdom of His Father – a kingdom of transforming justice and radical peace.

The invitation to become a Christian discipleship is an invitation to live as citizens of this new reality that have come into being in the reality of Jesus’ presence. In Christ we are brought into a new relationship with the Triune God – the perichoresis or “Divine Dance” that has existed between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit throughout eternity. Once the wonder and joy of this new relationship fully overcomes us, we will discover the excitement of living at peace with God and, therefore, peace with one another.

The Kingdom of God is not some future event to anticipate. Because Christ has come, God is with us, and we can living in that new reality right now by faith.

As you celebrate this truth throughout Advent, into Christmastide, and beyond, in what ways are your working and witnessing to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord?

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