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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: March 19, 2024

In Isaiah 11, when God promised that the Savior would come as a shoot from the stump of Jesse, He wasn’t kidding about the stump part. The house of David, once a mighty tree towering over the forest, had been reduced to nothing, reduced to stubble. The power and majesty of Solomon had been burned over, scorched by the flames of judgment brought on by the faithless kings from David’s body. And now, the heir to David’s throne, a man named Joseph is nothing significant, nothing of note. He’s not a dignitary, not a man dressed in royal clothing. He’s a lowly carpenter with no wealth, no power. And when a false king threatens violence against him and the heir born to his betrothed wife, he has no army to summon, no soldiers to command. All he can do is flee.

As we heard in 2 Samuel 7, God had promised David that a son from his body would rule from his throne forever, but by the time of Joseph, it certainly doesn’t look like it. It looks like the stump of Jesse, David’s father, will remain a stump. 

But through the faithfulness of that humble stumpkeeper, through the humility and faithfulness of Joseph, Jesus learned to be who He was. In the face of His adopted father, Jesus saw the face of His Father in Heaven because, in Joseph, He saw a man who would not pour out condemnation upon Mary when he presumed to be unfaithful, but sought to give her mercy and protection. In Joseph, he saw a man who would go where God commanded him, who would flee into the wilderness as false kings raged around him in order to keep his family safe.

And so, when Christ was led into the wilderness outside the city, when He was lifted up on the cross and faced a world filled with faithless adultery, when he faced a sea of sinners who raged against Him, Jesus acted like Joseph. He poured out mercy and forgiveness upon His people upon you and me. He covered up their sins. He brought life to His people through the blood from His veins. In all of this, from the ashes, from the embers, Jesus was the shoot raised up from the stump of Jesse. And from the empty tomb, Jesus fulfilled the promise God gave to David that a Son from his body would rule from His throne forever. And now, for two thousand years, the gentiles grafted into the people of God have given their sons the name Joseph while the name Herod, the pretender to the throne, is only heard in the condemning words of the Scriptures.

So let the humility and faithfulness of St. Joseph remind us of God’s steadfast love. No matter how burned over and stump-like you feel, God does not forget His promises. He will not abandon you to Herod or leave you in Egypt. He will protect you in this life and deliver you into life eternal through the nail pierced hands of the carpenter’s Son. 

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