O root of Jesse

Among all the grand titles we ascribe to Jesus, perhaps 'root of Jesse' is the least remarkable.  This title, however, serves to underline the humanness of Jesus; he is born as one of many descendants in a history of generations of human beings.  As such, 'root of Jesse' forms part of that mysterious reality which is also very divine, with God as his source of generation.  But more than that, this human Jesus is a clear descendant of Judaism, a Judaism which was so instrumental in forming the person and the psychology we can discern in the Gospels.  Indeed, Jesus was a practising Jew, though not always in the ways of established Jewish religious groups, and left the call to repentance for the Gentiles to others; he concentrated on his own people.  But even more, Jesse is that forefather who is linked to David.  Both by birth and by prophecy, Jesus is the fruit of Jesse and David and is known in his public life as 'son of David'.  Particularly Luke goes to great lengths to show his readers that Jesus is, because of his descent from Jesse and David, worthy of what was promised in prophecy for a future descendant of David.  Jesus was not 'the Anointed One' solely because of his characteristics of power, and wisdom and holiness; he was Messiah because he came from the house of one to whom God had promised an offspring who would rule forever on the throne of his forefather.  'Root of Jesse', then, suggests both the humanity of Jesus and his Jewishness and the reality that just as Jesus can be said to be generated by the Father, so we can say that Jesus, by his conception and birth, belonged to that family to whom was promised rule over Israel forever.

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