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The King

November 28, 2016

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit, And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.” Isaiah 11:1-2.

Our adult children have recently re-kindled my interest in our family genealogy. We started with the information I collected from our parents in 1980 after Bob and I were married. Bob’s father, a retired Harvard-trained medical doctor, gleefully claimed that his ancestors were Irish ruffians called the Galway Sluggers, who robbed stagecoaches on the West coast of Ireland. My mother told me that one of our ancestors was the offspring of a Polish prince. We have not yet found a scintilla of evidence of either claim in our on-line searches.

But that was not the case with Jesus. His genealogy is well documented in the Bible. It is important because he claimed to be the long-awaited Messiah. And his genealogy is one of many scriptural proofs of the truth of that claim. The Scripture texts for this Sunday set the scene.[1]

Isaiah’s account is the back-story, referencing current events, but also predicting the coming of the Messiah: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord . . . On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1-2, 10).

For hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, the expectation was that the Messiah would trace his lineage to King David. Jesus’ legal genealogy through his father is set forth in Matthew 1: 1-16, showing that he had a legal claim to the throne. He was a direct descendant of King David, the son of Jesse, hence the reference to Jesse in verse 1. But Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, not the biological son of Joseph. Jesus’ biological claim to King David is traced through his mother Mary, as explained by Luke (Luke 3:23).[2]

Peter Kreeft lists 17 prophecies in the book of Isaiah alone describing events in the life of Christ, documented in the New Testament, as proof that Jesus was who he said he was: “[T]he statistical odds that one man could fulfill all of these prophecies so completely is not much better than the odds that a monkey could type out Isaiah by randomly throwing marbles at a typewriter keyboard.” (Kreeft, You Can Understand the Bible (2005) Ignatius Press, p. 122).

The Biblical proof of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah is noted by Paul in the epistle lesson. Quoting Isaiah 11:10, Paul writes, “And again Isaiah says, ’The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” (Romans 15: 12). N.T. Wright explains why this is such powerful proof that Jesus was the Messiah: “In the original text, people might have read the next line [“the one who rises”] as meaning, simply, that this new king will ‘arise’ in the sense of ‘come to the fore’ or emerge from among the people.’ But the word in the version Paul quotes is one of the two regular ones he and other early Christians used for the Resurrection itself.” (Wright, Paul for Everyone, Romans, Part 2 (2004) Westminster John Knox Press, p. 118, Emphasis original). Paul was explaining that the Messiah prophesied by Isaiah had come, and that they could take great comfort in that fact.

John the Baptist was another prophet who prepared the way for Jesus. In the gospel lesson, Matthew also quotes Isaiah, declaring that John was “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” (Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:3).

It’s time for us to prepare for Jesus. It is time to meet him and to acknowledge that he is the King. We don’t need to tell us that Jesus was the King, the long awaited Messiah, and that we are his children. (Romans 8:17.) We pray to him as “Our Father.” The King, our Father, has bequeathed us the riches of the kingdom. Go to him today, tell him you’re sorry, share your concerns and needs, and claim your eternal inheritance in his kingdom.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Second Sunday in Advent are Psalm 72: 1-7, 18, 19; Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3: 1-12.

[2] Mary isn’t mentioned in Luke’s genealogy because Jewish genealogy was patriarchal. Biblical scholars believe that Heli (Luke 3:23) was Mary’s father, Joseph’s father-in-law.

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