As festive decorations have come down and Christmas trees are now discarded, some may feel a sense of loss, depletion, or sadness with the close of yet another year and season of celebration. We now enter the colder winter months, drier climate, and find scarcer shrubbery or plant life to awe us. The beauty of the ornaments that adorned our, now, uprooted Christmas trees remind us of the temporary joys these symbols provide. In fact, they stand in stark contrast to the person of whom this past season ought to have centred on – our dear Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah tells us “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).
Since the Christmas season celebrates the appearance of Christ born as a babe in the humble setting of a stable, sweetly wrapped in swaddling clothes as it were, and lying in a manger, we understand to some degree how he would then grow up as a “tender plant” within an unbelieving world. There is so much more, however, to this One Who is likened unto a “tender plant” and a “root out of dry ground”; we are confronted not only with a description of Christ’s appearance, but also, reminded of the abundance in Christ and the advanceof Christ in time past and time to come.
As for Christ’s appearance, we see such contrast between his likeness to the “tender plant” and “root out of dry ground”. On the surface, from the cradle to the Cross, what is visible to some is weakness and fragility, as Christ ultimately hung on the cross in a seemingly weak, crucified state. In fact, we often sing of Him:
Laid behind the stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Scripture affirms He was trampled like a rose willingly: “And being found in fashion [appearance] as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). And, yet, as a “root out of dry ground”, Christ was independent of his earthly surroundings, since the fullness of the Godhead dwelt (and still dwells) in Him.
Like a root, though hidden and unseen, yet the main source of life to the plant, providing strength, sustenance, and stability, so also is Christ to those whose lives are hidden in Him. Recall, it is said of our Lord Jesus Christ He is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15). This truth is alluded to in the preceding lyrics of the earlier song, “Above All”, which reads,
Above all powers,
Above all kings,
Above all nature and all created things,
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man,
You were here before the world began.
Above all kingdoms,
Above all thrones,
Above all wonders the world has ever known.
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth,
There’s no way to measure what You’re worth.
Christ, being God, is not only independent in and of Himself, but also causes all things – both visible and invisible – to depend on Him.
Here is where we experience abundance in Christ – if we wholly depend on Him, we become recipients of His fullness (John 1:16). As Apostle Paul puts it, God has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3), for, even as the root gives life to the plant, Christ came to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). When we trust Christ as Saviour, we are forgiven of our sins and grafted into Him as branches destined to bear fruit through our dependence on Him, “for if the root be holy, so are the branches” (Romans 11:16b), says God’s Word.
Our growth is fully dependent on our dependence on Christ. The more we grow in Him, the more fruit we ought to bear, and this fruit shall never spoil – it has eternal value. Even as a tender plant, though easily crushed under foot, springs back to life if not uprooted, so also Christ, though crushed and crucified for our sake, conquered sin and death by rising again from the grave. Death could have no hold on Him for He Himself is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). Jesus Christ shall never be uprooted – even at His birth, it was prophesied, “he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
Amazingly, God has chosen us feeble folk to share in the advancement of His Kingdom, however, we must always remember it is not the one who plants nor the one who waters that is any thing, but it is God that gives the increase and He ought to receive all glory (1 Corinthians 3:7). Scripture proclaims that the gospel has been “preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23) and its sound gone out to the far reaches of the world (Romans 10:18). God has seen to it that men are without excuse, and, if we are to truly thrive in this life and the life to come, we must be rooted in Christ and secure our place in Him.
So, as we consider Christ in this light – as a tender plant and root out of dry ground – let us consider the work He has done in our lives and upon our once stony hearts. Further, let us take comfort in knowing the abundance He can bring forth during the dry seasons of our lives even now, spurring us on to love and good works for the advancement of His Kingdom and for His glory!
EVERLASTING glory unto Jesus be!
Sing aloud the story of His victory!
How He left the splendor of His home on high,
Came in love so tender, on the cross to die.
Yes! He came from heaven, suffered in our stead;
Praise to Him be given, Firstborn from the dead!
Jesus, meek and lowly, came the lost to save;
He, the Victim holy, triumphed o’er the grave.
Christ is Lord of glory, sing we now today.
Tell abroad the story; own His rightful sway!
Sing aloud, and never cease to spread His fame;
Triumph, now and ever, in the Savior’s name.