And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek…
I. THE SURROUNDINGS WITH WHICH THE REDEEMER WOULD BE CONNECTED. He was to be "a root of Jesse." Elsewhere in his prophecy Isaiah speaks of Him as "a root out of a dry ground." The dry ground in which this root yielded the Plant of renown was the barren soil of a corrupt age, a worn out civilisation, a depraved humanity. His descent from Jesse associated Him vitally with a notable family of the Jews. But centuries had passed since the descendants of Jesse had made themselves conspicuous. The energy of that vigorous family had expended itself in the luxury and the frivolity of many kings. Joseph of Nazareth, the village carpenter, and Mary his espoused wife, were the living representatives of an illustrious ancestry; and they were so poor and so humble that Bethlehem, their native city, had no welcome for them when they went thither to be enrolled. The Child Jesus shared their lot. He could not have frequented the schools, for His townsmen were astonished at His wisdom when He began to teach. He evidently had the Old Testament Scriptures in His hands, and He had the swat influence of His mother, and the wise counsels of Joseph, and He had the synagogue. That was His environment — so far as His environment was helpful. He could draw no inspiration from the ordinary Jewish life of Nazareth, and still less from the Greek or Roman life of Galilee. His Jewish lineage is unquestioned, and yet there is nothing Jewish about Him. He is larger than the nation, larger even than the race. None of the important laws of heredity can explain Him.
II. THE ATTITUDE WHICH THE REDEEMER WOULD ASSUME. He was to "stand for an ensign of the people." Ideas are symbolised by standards. A national flag represents a national idea. Isaiah declared that Jesus would "stand for an ensign of the people" — not of the Jews merely, but of the Gentiles also; and Jesus made a similar declaration concerning Himself. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth," etc. He anticipated universal supremacy. This is surely a very remarkable expectation to be cherished intelligently by an ordinary Jew of that period of history. Racial lines were then sharply drawn. Yet Jesus — a Jew, and a Jew in a small provincial town, rose to an appreciation of the essential oneness of humanity, and presented Himself, with His idea, as the ensign of the people, so that Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, was able to write to the Gentiles of Ephesus: "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." This expectation was not cherished by one who was marching at the head of an invincible army, but by a very humble young man in the quiet village of Nazareth. He had never been abroad. He had enjoyed but little contact with the world. Yet He made this claim of universal authority. The sobriety of His claim will appear, and the wisdom of His purpose will be evident, if attention is directed to the characteristics of His idea, and if the trend of human progress is regarded. The idea of Jesus, the idea illustrated by His character and life, the idea around which Christendom is crystallising, is clearly expressed in the words, "not to be ministered unto, but to minister." This idea, the service of self-sacrifice, is one which is capable of transforming life. Now that idea is beginning to assert its power.
III. THE INFLUENCE WHICH THE REDEEMER WOULD EXERT. "His rest shall be glorious." This is the promise of peace which Jesus Himself repeated. Very simple are the terms, and yet men draw back from their simplicity. They want the rest, but they do not want to kneel at the feet of Christ. This work — so glorious — is not an experiment. It has approved itself. In Christ, all men may find rest.
(H. M. Booth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.