Theme: Jesus’ Humble Origins
This week’s lessons explain how Isaiah 53 clearly points to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Suffering Servant who would accomplish salvation for his people.
Scripture: Isaiah 53
Many of the phrases in verses 1–3 speak of the Messiah’s humble origins, but the one that strikes me particularly is in verse 2: “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.” That is an unusual expression, is it not? A root out of dry ground! Growing up like a tender plant! That is not what one might expect to find. We have a lot of dry ground in the pots in our house, and I can tell you that the things that come up out of them are not growing. They look dead. Dry ground does not produce very fruitful plants. So if something springs up out of dry ground, that is a very unusual situation. But that is what Isaiah says was to be the case with the Messiah. He would be God’s plant. He would prosper, but it would be out of dry ground.
When we look at Jesus’ ancestry we can point out, quite rightly, that he was of the tribe of David. He was a descendant of that great king. But when we look at the circumstances of his nation and family at the time of his birth, dry ground is a very apt term to describe it. He was of the family of David, all right. But his father was a simple carpenter. His mother was a humble maid from Nazareth. They were very poor people. The great family of David had sunk very low indeed. And as that was true of the family, so was it also true of the nation. Israel was subject to the Roman authorities. Looking at her you would have to say that the ground was not only dried out but was impoverished too. It was also impoverished spiritually. What blindness there was in Israel at the time of Christ’s coming! What hardness of heart! What legalism! What lack of faith! Yet it was out of just such soil that Jesus came. His birth was the work of God. It was a miracle.
The text says a number of things that may be related to that dry ground. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Some commentators, who know Hebrew better than I do, say that this refers largely to his unattractive past, not his manner. So far as Christ’s manner was concerned, there was much that was attractive in him. People took to him naturally. He was a friend of publicans and sinners. They clustered around him. It was only when he began to teach things they did not like that they dropped away. It is not that Jesus was austere or unlikable. It is rather that nothing in his ancestry, origins, or family would make him naturally attractive as a leader of men. As a matter of fact, when people considered his origins they said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s Son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us” (Matt. 13:55, 56)? So they despised him, which is what the verses say: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (v. 3).
We might think that Isaiah should be talking of an exalted being coming from God to descend upon the throne of David. But he begins by saying, “A root out of dry ground . . . a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.” And that is precisely the way in which the Messiah came. This is a portrait of Jesus of Nazareth.
In what ways does Jesus fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of being a root out of dry ground?
How does Jesus fit Isaiah’s description that the Servant would be “a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering”?
Application: In what ways are Christians called to demonstrate humility? How can you apply this first point to your own life?