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… as the waters cover the sea

Friday, January 3, 2003

Isaiah 11:1-10
1And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
2And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;
3And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
4But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
6The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
10And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.


When Jesus began his public ministry he stood up in his local church, opened the book of Isaiah, and read these words. Then he said to his neighbors and friends, “I’m the guy.”

Since they all knew Jesus and didn’t think he was any different from them, they said, “No!” After all, they used their eyes and ears to decide things, their righteousness was limited to their own points of view, peace did not follow them … why should it follow Jesus?

They, like I am, were fascinated by the pastoral, secure future described in this most famous of prophecies by Isaiah. Wolves and lambs together, snakes that don’t bite, lions no longer bloodthirsty … all the earth “full of the knowledge of the Lord.” How else could all of us live together like this, unless we could fully and wholly transcend our own points of view, our own self-protectiveness, our own self-centeredness, our own needs? Not just the lions, but the men. Not just the wolves, but the women. Not just the snakes, but the children.

God makes it very clear that this fine new world is in the hands of the “root of Jesse,” a man like the rest of us, but not at all like the rest of us. This man is not full of himself, but full of the knowledge of the Lord. Can I look at Jesus, see myself reflected in him, and still follow? In the darkness of these cold Advent nights, I want to make my answer, “Yes.”

Jesus, as you look upon me, let me look upon myself without shame. In the light that shines from your face, let me see myself in a new way. Make me free to give, free to love.



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