And there shall come forth a rod from 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; And 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… The 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.” (Is 11: 1-3, 6) How immediately recognizable is the “character” described in these prophetic words. Centuries before His appearance to us in a manger in Bethlehem, our Lord Jesus Christ is called here “a rod out of the stem of Jesse,” – of the wealthy Jesse who lived in Bethlehem and had eight sons, the youngest of whom was David. The prophet Isaiah “sees” so vividly the “Spirit” of the God-Man, Who was to be a descendant of David: Isaiah “sees” Christ’s wisdom, might, quick understanding, abstinence from superficial judgment (“he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes”). The prophet also “sees” the unifying, conciliatory effects of our Lord’s coming to us in His humble, non-judgmental manner: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard with the kid, and so on. So the longing for, and vision of, the unique, divine-human Character of our Lord Jesus Christ was very much alive centuries before anyone had set eyes on Him. And perhaps surprisingly, today the prophet’s vision refreshes mine, when my own has faltered or become weak through forgetfulness, carelessness, or some of the spiritual baggage I’ve accumulated throughout my week. Today let me be open to the great and small reminders from “so great a cloud of witnesses” surrounding me, both from the past and present. Let my vision and longing for Him be refreshed in the fellowship of the Spirit, offered in His one Body, that I may be led, with others, by “a little child,” Who comes forth out of the stem of Jesse.

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