1A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2The 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. 3His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den. 9They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10On 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.
Last Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, linear time and the scriptures opened to us a new Year of Grace!
Chapter 11 of Isaiah comes right after... chapter 10, that tells about a clearcut forest, so we start out today with a tree stump (branch, scepter, rod). Jesse was the father of King David. The carol anthem "Lo, How a Rose" sings about Jesus' descent "Of Jesse's lineage. " For this year's lectionary year A, Matthew's gospel emphasizes Jesus as the new King David. A lot!
[11:2] Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
[11:3-4] This offspring of Jesses does not go by hear say or hear see, but assesses people and situations objectively. Later on in Isaiah 28:17 we read, "I will make justice the measuring line, righteousness the plumb line." [11:5] Clothed, dressed, arrayed in righteousness. In baptism the righteousness of Jesus Christ clothes us, helps us stand upright! [11:4] Also includes the creative, redemptive, Word that re-orders and reconciles.
For today's first reading, 1st Isaiah brings us an amazing vision sometimes called the Peaceable Kingdom [11:6-7]. American artist Edward Hicks painted at least 50 different versions of wild and tame animal – lion, leopard, bear, wolf, sheep, cow, goat; many of his Peaceable Kingdom paintings include a toddler-age child. if you've sung in choirs or listened to much choral music, you may know the Peaceable Kingdom American composer Randall Thompson wrote for double mixed choir. [11:8] Part of the reign, that kingdom, is the end of human/serpent enmity we know from genesis 3:15.
The end of today's passage tells us [11:10a] "On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples..." A sign, standard, signal, icon, ensign: the cross of Jesus Christ.
The reality of new life coming our of the death, the end of the old. For the Apostle Paul, the gospel, the good news is death and resurrection! God redeems and recreates our failures, our disappointments, losses, illnesses, etc. Particularly here in southern California, the reality of new verdant growth from the ashes of a wildfire amazes me every time—but probably shouldn't, since death is God's best and most fave way of brining resurrection.
I mentioned the new creation is not pristine, but builds on the ruins of the old. Los Angeles River, Clark Fork in Idaho. Both inspired human projects to restore riparian habitat that had been devastated unto death.
We've all experienced death by drowning in baptism. We all live daily in our second birth.