I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David…
We are perpetually bidden in God's Word to look to Christ. All manner of means are employed to lead us so to do. Amongst others, the vast variety of names that are given to our Lord serve this purpose. There axe some two hundred of these, and they cannot but arrest attention, excite inquiry, and impress the mind, of any thoughtful reader. Here we have three of them.
I. THE ROOT OF DAVID. So is Christ named here, or rather so does he name himself. What is the meaning of this name? The reference is to Isaiah 11., where we read, "Behold, there shall come forth a shoot from the stock of Jesse, and a scion shall spring forth from his roots;... and in that day there shall be a root of Jesse." Hence the meaning is:
1. Not that our Lord was the Author, the Source of the family of David, as well as its Offspring. It does not mean that before David was, Christ was, as he said concerning Abraham. Many, however, have so understood these words as if they were equivalent to what we mean when we call our Lord "the second Adam;" as St. Paul does. No doubt Christ is, in this sense, the Root of David, as he is of us all. Unless we believe matter to be eternal, man must have sprung from some spiritual root. We are told that God by Christ "created the heavens and the earth," and that "the things which are made were not made of things which do appear." We and all men and things are the product of his Divine essence. No doubt these words are beyond our comprehension. It is "by faith" we accept them. Therefore, in this sense, Christ was the Root of David. But it is not the truth taught here. That truth is:
2. Christ is as a stem springing from the root of David. Oftentimes there may be seen springing up from the roots of a tree which has been cut down or broken off, and which has disappeared all but its roots, a vigorous but slender stem, which may grow up to be itself a stalwart tree. Now it was when the house of David had fallen low, its glory all gone, that as a stem out of the ancient root Christ appeared. True, he was of the house and lineage of David, but the fortunes of that house were at their lowest when Jesus was born. The crown of Judah had left the line of David, and had passed into the Asmonean, and then into the Maccabean, and then into the Herodian dynasties. And now when the noble tree had fallen, and nothing but the roots were left, and these hidden, buried, altogether unnoticed by men, lo! there springs up a stem, a shoot, out of that ancient root, small and insignificant to the eye, but destined to be great indeed. And in a spiritual sense Christ is the Root, not only of David, lint of many others also. How often, when all men's earthly pride and greatness have been taken away, the tender plant of grace springs up, and Christ becomes in and to them "the Hope of glory"! What an encouragement this fact is! Nothing seemed less likely than that the house of David should flourish once more. But in Christ it does so still. Yes, out of the roots, when all else is gone, this new, blessed, and Divine growth may spring.
II. THE OFFSPRING OF DAVID. That Christ was so is shown:
1. By many Scriptures. Continually is he called the "Son of David."
2. By the silence of his enemies. Could they have shown that he was not descended from David, they would have gained a great advantage against him. But they tacitly admitted it because they could not disprove it.
3. By the genealogies given in Matthew 1. and in Luke. The former gives our Lord's legal descent, the latter his natural descent. Jesus being adopted by Joseph, whose descent St. Matthew gives, took the place of his son, and was reckoned legally as such. But St. Luke gives the descent of Mary from the elder branch of the house of David. God had promised that it should be so, that Christ should be born of his house, and when it seemed as if the promise had failed, lo! it was abundantly fulfilled. Learn: "He is faithful that promised,"
III. THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR, This august name declares our Lord to be: The Brightness of the Father's glory. Stars have been chosen by all nations as fit symbols of majesty, and especially by the nations of the East, where the stars shine out with a glory of which we in our cloudy climates little know. Hence they were regarded as symbols of kingly rule (cf. Numbers 24., "A star shall rise, and a sceptre," etc.). And their majestic appearance led to their worship (cf. the Magi). The kingly glory of Christ, the brightness of the Father's glory, is there meant. "Thou art the King of glory, O Christ."
2. The Pledge and Bringer in of the perfect day. Not only is he the Star, but the Bright and Morning Star. The Star which foretold the day dawn; the "Day Star," as he is elsewhere called. And Christ is this. The shadows of night rest on man and his dwelling place; but Christ has come, and what treasure store of hope is there not in him for us all? - S. C.
Parallel VersesKJV: I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.