The Rod of Jesse
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1)
This is one of the many prophecies regarding the Incarnation of Christ, which clearly states that Christ will be born with royal lineage. The Genealogies of Christ found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, confirm that Jesus’ descendants can be traced back to Jesse through the Holy Theotokos. Our Church hymnography expresses the same message in the Katavasies of Christmas: “Jesse’s root produced a branch, O Christ, and You its flower blossomed forth.” The rod refers to the Mother of God, a descendent of Jesse, the father of King David. The flower that has blossomed out of this rod is Christ, “Who destroyed the stench of worldly pollutions and poured out the fragrance of eternal life”, as writes St Ambrose of Milan.
A rod is a symbol of support and strength. For the Orthodox Christian, the Virgin Mary is a source of protection and refuge, as she was the only woman in history deemed worthy to give birth to Christ, the incarnate Second Person of the Holy Trinity. We must learn to call upon the Virgin Mary in times of trouble and sorrow, since she is always quick to intercede to her Son on our behalf.
The underlying message in this prophesy is that God Eternal, the Creator of all, took on flesh out of the ‘roots’ that He Himself had Created, in order that man be restored to his original glory.
Source: December-January 2015 Lychnos Edition