URC Daily Devotion Tuesday 19th December 2023

Tuesday, 19th December 2023
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)


O Root of Jesse,
standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

Isaiah 52: 13 – 15

See, my servant shall prosper;
    he shall be exalted and lifted up,
    and shall be very high.
Just as there were many who were astonished at him
    —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of mortals—
so he shall startle many nations;
    kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which had not been told them they shall see,
    and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Woven amongst the maelstrom of international politics, Isaiah gives us some glorious glimpses of Jesus. We see Jesus as ‘Immanuel’ – God with us (Isaiah 7:14). We see Jesus as the light in the darkness, as ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:2,6-7). We see Jesus as the root of Jesse, from whom a shoot will come and bear fruit – the fruit of righteousness and justice (Isaiah 11:1-5). And here in Isaiah 52 – and in 53 – it’s hard not to see Jesus’s journey to the Cross.
The good news of Advent and Christmas is that into the maelstrom of our broken world, full of politics and pain, injustice and iniquity, God comes. God doesn’t come with great fanfare and majesty. God doesn’t come with a sword, leading the armies of heaven. God’s sign to us is Jesus: born in a humble manger and lifted high on a cruel cross. In Jesus, God suffers with us – and for us. In Jesus, God pays the price for our sin; God defeats the powers of evil by taking upon himself their full force; and God shows us a better way to live, a way of grace and sacrifice.
Two thousand years later, the ‘kings’ of the earth still choose the wrong ways – and so do we. We still think we know best, as we choose pride over humility; judgment over grace; hate over love. This Christmas, we need to look afresh at the babe in the manger, and we need to look beyond it to the cross, the throne of Christ. As we do, we pray for the fulfilment of all that Christ began: ‘Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.’


Wonderful Counsellor, 
Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace,
Open our eyes that we may see you for who you are…
…and see ourselves for who we are.
Be a sign to us, a light in our darkness. 
Be a sign to your world, lost and broken.
Inspire us to be your witnesses,
To bring your hope to the hopeless.
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Matt Stone, Minister of Herringthorpe URC, Rotherham and Ardeen Road URC, Doncaster, and Chair of the Group for Evangelism and Renewal in the URC (GEAR) 


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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