A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
I love advent. I love taking the time every day to think about how the story of the birth of Christ is the beginning of life for so many of us. It’s as if remembering all the long-ago events that led up to his actual birth is God’s way of refreshing us. I love Advent Calendars and wreaths. This year I’m going to create a digital version of a less-well-known way to remember these days leading up to Christmas, the Jesse Tree, the branch Isaiah 11:1 mentions. There’s a lot of information on the internet about that if you want to know more.
On this first day of Advent 2016 I can’t help but think of the effort God put into preparing what we are here to remember again this year. Isaiah is a perfect place to begin. Out of the root of that stump of a great tree that seemed seemed only to be lost, there came Jesus, the branch who began at the very moment of his birth to bear fruit that you and I are living proof of.
I John 5:6-10a & 11-12a NASB
6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life…
“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself…”. The Spirit, the water and the blood have been, and are still, testifying in your life. It’s easy to recognize that testimony after you’ve been adopted into God’s family. But what about those years before? Those three were not just standing in the wings hoping you might come to your senses. They were there testifying to you about the reality of Christ.
I was baptized when I was about 12. There was some huddled whispering among relatives at that time that was mysterious to me. Some of the mystery became clear shortly after my baptism when I learned the only Dad I’d ever known wasn’t my birth father at all but the process for adoption had been put in motion. The name I had been baptized with wasn’t actually my new name…yet. That process took years but I came home one day to find my Dad with papers in hand weeping because I was finally his daughter.
It doesn’t make a bit of difference what the human details were. The participants might not have been perfect or even particularly religious. The Lord in his mercy, saw that young girl and was testifying to her about another adoption that would take another 15 or 16 years: this time by a heavenly Dad.
Like me, you were not adopted into God’s family because he’d waited long enough…or by the skin of your teeth…or your wise choices. Long before that adoption became a reality there was a process in motion: testimony was happening. Don’t overlook it. That recognition can be one of the strengths in your life. Think back and see for yourself how faithful God has been to you both Before and After.