Day 4: When Death Seems Like the End, Emmanuel

(In Day 1, He was the light of deliverance’s promise flickering in the darkness. In Day 2, He was the Shepherd leading the way around winding paths. In Day 3, He was the God who chose to dwell with us to the journey’s end.)

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow’r to save;
Bring them in vict’ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

He sat on the throne of King David of Judah, son of Jesse, friend of God, future ancestor of Jesus. From that seat, he forsook the Lord and ignored His voice. And God declared Jehoiakim the last of a line of kings in Judah. Cursed would be the seeds that fell from his tree.

Then came Joseph, the last in the family line, centuries after the curse on his lineage. Joseph, who by virtue of his bloodline could have inherited the throne, but who by virtue of God’s plan became a humble carpenter in Nazareth, a city scorned by all who passed by. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” they’d say.

And Joseph’s fiancee, a young girl likely just past her bat mitzvah, already pregnant by the hand of God. He could have scorned her, could have had her stoned, but this carpenter from a line of kings chose to believe the promise of God.

Together, they journeyed to Bethlehem, home of David’s ancient throne, traveling hundreds of miles to claim their lineage in Caesar’s census. Back to their roots. Back to their beginning. And in this place of their beginning came a new beginning for all who were to come. In this place where Jesse’s seed took root, a tree would grow, and from that tree, a Branch – a rod – that would conquer death and gather the Shepherd’s lost sheep to come Home.

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And 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” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

But seeds with any potential of growth must die before they can live. This seed that would bring life to all was born to die. And He didn’t come with a trumpet’s reverie; he didn’t come with a parade. He was born in a cave with farm animals around Him because no one had made room for the King of all kings, son of David, son of man, son of God to be born.

He was born in a cave, was raised by a carpenter, and died on a tree. And blessed would be tree from which fell the seed that grew into a tree that the King would carry to be raised up for all to see. Blessed would be the tree that would bear the weight of the King who would bear the weight of the sins of the world and would finish it all, once and for all.

The Rod of Jesse was buried in a cave for three days, and all hope seemed lost. Death seemed like the end. But the Rod of Jesse had to die to deal with the root of the sin that cursed the seeds that fell from the tree of David. On that third day, from the depths of death, He arose with the key that would open the door to the presence of God and set us all free. The world, weary from the weight of sin, would now have cause to rejoice.

God With Us, even in death, brought life. Even in death, He lived. And having redeemed us all from the curse of the law and death, he arose to take His seat on the throne at the right hand of God, grafting a place for all of us in the tree of life, etching our names upon the roots of His heart. This God who is with us has invited us to be with Him.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come, and Emmanuel says, “Come.” What will be your reply?

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3 thoughts on “Day 4: When Death Seems Like the End, Emmanuel

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