This post is part of a series of Christmas Devotionals by Dr. John Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. You can find all of the devotionals by clicking here.
Scripture passages: Isaiah 4:2, 11:1-2; Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15
I fondly remember a boyhood traipse through the woods with my brother, James, and my father on Granny Nichols’ place. Our goal was to cut a Christmas tree that would grace our family living room. I remember our selecting a nicely shaped Eastern Red Cedar, common on the hillsides of my Appalachian homeland. We cut the tree and hauled it from the woods in an old International Scout. The cedar tree’s pungent fragrance adorned our family Christmas that year.
As Christmas approaches, I have been pondering another tree—our family tree! One of my favorite Messianic promises describes Jesus in the language of a forester: “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 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 NKJV). Isaiah prophesies the Branch, a Son of David, upon whom the Spirit of God rests. We know this Branch as God made flesh, Jesus, the Son of God.
As I thought about this promise, I was awestruck afresh at the hope of the ages, our Lord Jesus, the Son of God. I am ever humbled by His Incarnation, that the God of the universe would lay aside the splendor of heaven and embrace the limitations of human flesh. The miracle of the virgin birth staggers my imagination. I am amazed by the intention of the Father for His own Son to become the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Christmas is about Christ!
The Branch continues to grow, expand, and reach the world with the message of Christmas. The Branch out of Jesse is the Lord Jesus Christ who graces Wesley Biblical Seminary with His miracles, His approval, and His blessing. The Branch out of Jesse is the Savior who has placed WBS alumni in key places of ministry. The Branch is gracing the life and ministry of Rev. Tomoki Yamanaka as He labors for Jesus in his island country of Japan through the Japanese Holiness Church. The Branch is gracing the teaching ministry of Dr. Jon Morgan at Indiana Wesleyan University as he inspires undergraduates with his love for Scripture and theology. The Branch is approving of Rev. Richard and Tara Jelley and their five lovely daughters as they shepherd the flock of God in North Carolina. The Branch, our Lord Jesus Christ, is growing to cover the world with the glorious Gospel of full and free salvation through WBS alumni. The Branch is the Author of the Wesley Biblical Seminary family tree.
This Christmas, celebrate the Branch of Jesse, our Lord Jesus Christ! Celebrate the far-reaching impact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has grafted you into the family tree. Then take the Branch to the world.