December 3, 2020

Root of Jesse

December 3, 2020


Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Isaiah 4:2-6
Acts 1:12-17, 21-26


Mark Twain once said, “Don’t waste good money finding your family tree. Go into politics and someone will do it for you.” This seems to be true even in a democracy, but of course, the ancestors of the British monarchs are the subject of historical debate – and TV shows. It’s no wonder Matthew takes great pains tracing Jesus’ ancestry back to Abraham, and in 1:6 we read: “the son of Jesse, the father of David,” Israel’s great king. The prophets said God will send the son of David to reign, and Jesus is the son of David, though being recognized as “king” on Palm Sunday led to his execution. Jesus was lifted up on the cross, and God lifted him from the grave to reign in glory at God’s right hand.

Today’s Psalm is thought to reveal David’s view of kingship and may have been written for Solomon’s coronation. The ideal ruler of Psalm 72 is endowed with God’s justice, treating the people with righteousness. The ideal ruler cares for the afflicted, the poor, and the children of the needy. He “crushes the oppressor” and lifts up the people so that God’s glory may fill all the earth. This list provokes thought at the end of an election cycle. But is it only an ideal? Solomon certainly failed. He is said to be wise and known for the tributes he received, but he is also known for his extravagance and his many wives. He bankrupted the nation and left a divided kingdom. Jesus’s reign is utterly different. He topples the mighty from their throne and lifts up the poor and lowly. The spiritual says, “King Jesus is a’listening all day long, to hear somebody pray.” 


  • Read Luke 1:46-55, “Mary’s Song.” What do these verses tell us about how Jesus rules?
  • What can we expect of today’s officials and leaders in a democracy? How do we hold them accountable to God’s justice and mercy?


On “Day 4” we pray as we sing:
O come, thou Root of Jesse’s tree an ensign of thy people be.
Before thee rulers silent fall. All peoples on thy mercy call. Refrain: “Rejoice, Rejoice . . .”