There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
What follows is an excerpt from When Swallows Return by John and Mari Jones. The book is a collection of stories from farm life which, although written some years ago, contain spiritual lessons for us today.
The Rowan Tree
Many years ago a fine pine tree, growing at the foot of a hillock below our farm house, was felled. It was sawn some six feet above ground. Some time later a bird must have decided to use the stump’s flat surface as a dining table. Its menu that day comprised of some rowan berries, and doubtless it enjoyed its meal. It left the rowan stones behind.
Before taking leave of the spot it seems that it made further use of its convenience! The stones were thus surrounded by natural, organic manure which encouraged them to throw out roots and upward-growing shoots. The slowly rotting pulp of the old tree, plus some loam which somehow found its way there, provided an ideal compost mixture for the rowan shoot to grow.
Over the years and in such favourable conditions, it has become a fine sapling, strong and sturdy because its roots reach down through the old growth into the soil below.
Every time I pass by I am reminded of Isaiah 11:1, `There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.’ The prophet, of course, had Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in mind; he would be the `shoot’ and the ‘Branch’, since he would be the descendant of King David, the son of Jesse.
When September comes and the orange-red berries appear, how lovely is their brilliant colour. And we are reminded of another description of the Messiah, by the same prophet, that of the ‘suffering Servant’ who shed his blood and gave his life for us on the cross (Isaiah 53).
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood . . . to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5-6