The Root Of Christmas
Bloodline, ancestry, and roots mean a great deal to the sophisticated and the upper crust of societies. To be able say that you are from the Rockefellers or the Kennedys is an immediate feather in your Stetson, and a huge boost to the ego.
I am reminded of the film Titanic when drifter Jack Dawson is introduced to the sophisticates on board, and he is asked, “Hello Jack, are you of the Boston Dawsons?” And Jack responds, “No, the, uh, Chippewa Falls Dawsons, actually.” Jack knew that to fit in, he would have to give some noble sounding rootage. So he made it up with some quick thinking, in order that he would not be looked upon as coming from root rot.
I come from a very proud Dutch ancestry, and my roots of course can be traced back to the Netherlands. I don’t know how it got started, but there is a saying that captures my proud rootage which goes like this:
“IF YOU’RE NOT DUTCH, YOU’RE NOT MUCH.”
Yes, I know that it is sick, but there is enough root pride in it to make it stick.
When conducting evangelistic crusades in the Netherlands, we were simply one day visiting the downtown streets of Leeuwarden, Friesland. We saw all the Dutch names on the store fronts that we were so accustomed to in Holland, Michigan where so many of the Dutch immigrants settled – names such as DeVries, DeHaan, DeJong.
And so we went into one of the stores in Friesland to introduce ourselves to the owner as Dutch descendants from America. The owner immediately said to us with bluster:
“YES, BUT RREEEMEMBER, YOU ARE COPIES, WVEEE ARE THE ORIGINALS.”
Translation – His was the REAL DUTCH ROOTAGE, while we were at best only offshoots, sprigs, twigs. Root pride to the max!
CHRISTMAS’ IGNOBLE ROOTAGE
Surely, the eternal Son of God must have come from ROYAL ROOTAGE, and grew up as a prince in palatial splendor. Certainly Jesus Christ must have arrived on earth in a kingly chariot with stately procession. Certainly he grew up out of the richest soil. Think again!
We read about the Lord Jesus Christ and His HUMAN ROOTAGE in Isaiah 53:1-2,
“Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
“For He (the Son of God) shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
and as A ROOT OUT OF A DRY GROUND….”
You wouldn’t believe it if we told you! If you will, who would have believed our report if we told them where Christmas really came from? JESUS’ ROOTAGE – DRY, DEAD, CRACKED, BARREN SOIL. No Christmas lights to mask the blighted landscape.
See the picture of the TENDER PLANT above, and you will get the picture. REALITY CHRISTMAS WITHOUT ANY OF THE MODERN FANTASY ACCOUTREMENTS! Christmas as it really is, stripped down to the bare earth. Not exactly your typical Christmas card, now is it? Send that picture on your Christmas cards along with Isaiah 53:1-2, and see what response you get. It just doesn’t fit with the Santa Claus concepts of Santa Jesus that so many church and unchurched people have in their heads. The Isaiah 53:1-2 images of Christmas simply will not take hold. In fact:
“THE PICTURE OF AN OLD MAN DRIVING A REINDEER-POWERED SLEIGH FILLED
WITH GIFTS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN VERY GOOD, WILL NOT
EASILY GIVE WAY TO THE REALITY OF A ROOT AND A TENDER
PLANT GROWING UP OUT OF DEAD SOIL FOR THOSE
WHO HAVE BEEN VERY BAD.”
“‘I’M DREAMING OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS‘ IS SO MUCH NICER AND
MELODIOUS THAN ‘I’M DREAMING OF A CHRISTMAS ROOT
IN DRY GROUND.'”
So then, let’s just stay with tradition. After all, what’s so wrong with thinking that Jesus Christ is more like a Colorado Spruce covered with colored lights, and growing on glistening snow-covered hills? Let’s not spoil it with O.T. prophecy. Okay? Good! Everything is under control here, and let’s all gather around the stockings hung with great care, in the hopes that Saint Nick will soon be there. Hot cocoa and cookies anyone? Be sure to leave some for Santa!
However, God the Holy Spirit in the prophets of His Word, paints a totally different word picture, and uncompromisingly makes no bones about the kind of humble, human rootage that Jesus Christ came from. No cover-up here to save face. It is disconcerting to say the least. After all, He is the Son of God, and one might expect that when He came forth on Christmas, that He would have been molded out of the best soil, and would have sprung forth from the noblest rootage. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Certainly God the Son would emerge in the flesh from pomp and privilege. But instead, the glorious and eternal Son of God’s earthly rootage was about as low and demeaning as you could get:
“NOT AS A PLANT FROM RICH, FERTILE SOIL, BUT AS A ROOT OUT OF
That is not the rootage that anyone wants to broadcast!
You may recall, in the Tarzan Series, how by volume Four, Son of Tarzan, Jane and Tarzan are living in London with their son Jack. Jack doesn’t have a clue that his dad was anything but a British nobleman. And that was because uptight Jane had absolutely forbidden any talk of her husband’s past – a female ape who had adopted Tarzan as her son. How is that for such improper rootage – A BUDDING APE-MAN FROM APE ANCESTRY! What kind of monkey madness is this?
Jesus’ mother Mary hid and pondered in her heart many mysteries about herself and her Son. We will never know what she was thinking throughout her unimaginable journey with her boy, yet not her boy, Jesus. But what the Bible does not hide is that the ROOT OF CHRISTMAS grew up out of the worst soil possible. Nothing even close to the BOSTON DAWSONS here.
WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT?
You talk about a totally LACKLUSTER LINEAGE,
“as a ROOT OUT OF CRACKED CLAY….”
I mean to say, that is lower than the lowest. That is lower than the bottom. It makes Jesus sound like a desert lizard emerging out of the sand somewhere. How demeaning can you get? That simply could not be possible or right for the Son of God.
What’s wrong with this picture? Isaiah 53:1,
“Who hath believed out report?”
Let me very briefly tell you of some throughout history who didn’t and still don’t believe the whole thing yet today.
The Gnostics handled it by convincing themselves that Jesus was not God or a man, but an angel who only appeared to have been born. He was of a far more esteemed lineage – ANGELIC! Away with this notion that God was birthed and after-birthed from a virgin in a smelly stable.
The Socinians (Faustus Socinus) denied Christ’s Divine nature not only, but cut Him short both root and branch, in that they denied His being the true Messiah as well. They believed that Jesus was only a son of David because His mother was married to one who was of David’s line.
Throughout the ages men have had great trouble believing that God was born of a Virgin named Mary. Just the sound of it is insulting and a blasphemous cover-up for rank fornication! Jesus Christ could never be a part of something so PEYTON PLACE. It is all just too sordid sounding to be true! The whole thing is scandolous!
And then of course, there are and always have been those who have great trouble believing that Jesus Christ was born at all. They disbelieve Christmas, and say humbug to the entire thing. The world has always had its theological SCROOGES, and some are even in the church today. Mythological at best! Even as GEICO IS AN ICON FOR INSURANCE, SO BEHTLEHEM’S BABE IS NO MORE THAN AN ICON FOR ASSURANCE in a world of uncertainty. Nothing more!
Whether you believe it or not, does not change the fact that Almighty God on Christmas got as close to earth as anyone could ever get. He had a child by one of our young women. Her name was Mary. And Isaiah in Isaiah 53:1-2 nails God down hard and deep in the earth. You might say that Isaiah GROUNDED GOD like no one has ever before or ever since been GROUNDED.
David Redding in his book, The Faith of Our Fathers, asks:
“WE DO NOT KNOW HOW MANY PLANETS GOD HAS VISITED, NOR
HOW MUCH IMPORTANCE HE ATTACHES TO THE MOON.”
I don’t know either, but one thing for sure, He not only visited our planet, nor did he just wave His hand as He passed through. God not only came to earth, but He grew out of it as A ROOT OUT OF DRY GROUND, and then appeared as the TENDER PLANT that we know as the BABE OF MARY’S WOMB AND BEHTLEHEM’S MANGER.
But then, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, would you? Well friend, I am going to try anyway, and trust the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you.
IT’S ALL IN THE CHRISTMAS ROOT
Right here is the true miracle and mystery of Christmas – how can anything grow out of dead earth in the first place? This sounds like a total contradiction and an utter impossibility. I tried to plant a Blue Spruce in sandy, worthless soil recently, and sure enough, it died. I should have known better and learned a hard lesson. I even named the tree Matthew, hoping that by giving it a Bible name would help it grow and live.
But you see, that is the wonder of Christmas, that is the glory of the Savior, that is the amazingness of God’s grace.
“THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS GREW FROM THAT WHICH CANNOT BIRTH,
LET ALONE GROW AND SUPPORT LIFE.”
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon puts it all so beautifully and exactly:
“We do not wonder that some plants thrive abundantly, for the earth in which they are planted is particularly congenial to their growth; but if we see a root or a tree luxuriating upon a flinty rock, or in the midst of arid sand, we are astonished and admire the handiwork of God.”
“Our Savior is a root that derives nothing from the soil in which it grows, but puts everything into the soil. Christ does not live because of his surroundings, but he makes those to live who are around him; and Christianity in this world derives nothing from the world except what corrupts and injures it, but it imparts every blessing to the place where it comes. Notice, then, this truth, — that Christ is always “a root out of a dry ground”; he derives nothing from without, but is self-contained and self-sustained in all the strength and excellence which he displays. Let us dwell on that truth.”
“Now, Beloved, let this console you. Christ Jesus, when He saves a sinner, borrows no help whatever from the sinner himself. ‘It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.’ If there is all fullness in Him, He does not need any contribution from us, and, blessed be His name, He never waits for any. We can give none and He will receive none.”
“Christ is all—does not that cheer you? Do you say, ‘I need power?’ In Him is strength.
‘I need wisdom’ you say. He is made of God unto us wisdom.
‘I need a tender heart.’ Who can give it to you but Christ?
‘But, ah, I need to repent.’ Is He not exalted on high to give repentance?
‘But I long for faith.’ Well, and have you never read, ‘It is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God’?
He is a root out of a dry ground, and your ground is very, very dry. He will come and put fertility into it, but remember He does not first need fertility in you.” (End of Spurgeon quote from his sermon A Root Out Of Dry Ground.)
Let me summarize Spurgeon’s exegesis of the CHRISTMAS ROOT OUT OF DRY GROUND IN THIS WAY:
“WE NEED ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING THAT JESUS IS AND HAS, AND
JESUS NEEDS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THAT WE ARE OR HAVE.”
“THE DRY AND DECAYED HUMAN SOUL CANNOT MAKE ONE SINGLE IMPROVEMENT
WITHOUT THE GRACE OF THE CHRISTMAS ROOT GROWING WITHIN.”
“WITHOUT THE CHRISTMAS ROOT WHO IS THE ESSENCE OF SELF-DENIAL,
GROWING WITHIN, THE HUMAN SOUL WILL CONTINUE FOREVER ITS
CRUSADE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT AND PRIORITIZATION OF SELF.”
And to top it off, there has been a FALSE CHRISTMAS ROOT PLANTED IN THE MODERN CHRISTIAN CHURCH, A FALSE CHRIST, A FALSE GOSPEL. And because of this RICH ROOT WHICH GROWS OUT OF LUSH AND PLUSH SOIL:
“IN THE MODERN RELIGIOUS SOUL, PROFIT NOW REPLACES PURITY,
AND TEMPORAL POSSESSIONS OUTWEIGH THE HOPE AND
REWARD OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS.”
What was it that Jesus Christ said in John 15:5,
“Apart from Me (the real root), you can do nothing.”
How is that for a humbler? How is that for non-productivity? How is that for barrenness of soil? How is that for total infertility of the soul?
It is all in the ROOT. Of course, for everything good that we give to the Lord, we already received from Him. Frankly, we contribute nothing original from beginning to end. Amazing:
“EVERYTHING GOD-GLORIFYING IN OUR LIVES WE RECEIVED FROM HIM
WHO ALONE IS ALL GLORIOUS.”
As A.W. Tozer puts it in sermon “The Root of the Righteous,”
“In trying to count our many blessings, the difficulty is not to find things
to count, but to find time to enumerate them all.”
We read hard things in the Bible, such as in Romans 13:17,
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”
And again in Romans 13:21,
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
That is not as simple as it may sound. This is not only difficult, it is humanly impossible given the nature of man. The first reaction of our sinful nature is to fight fire with fire, to even up the score, and thereby return evil for evil. “Just wait, I’ll get even, his or her time will come.” That is the vengeful spirit that infects the human race.
We as vengeful retaliators are so inclined to such get-even thoughts and actions, that we even cast the lower creation in the same vengeful mode. Like the father who told his little boy that if he went to the bathroom in the woods, the squirrels and skunks and other critters would find their way to his house and desecrate his room with their gnawing and stinking revenge. They would smell and tear it up something awful. Of course the little lad was scared to death, and would rather from that day on wet his pants than to defile the animals sacred wooded ground. He was even told that they could follow him home from his scent.
Everyone grows up with his own set of misconceptions. Most of them seem to spring up naturally, and then tragically reinforced by misunderstood or misleading remarks made from grownups.
Oh Lord, I need the spirit of forgiveness! I DON’T HAVE A STITCH OF IT IN MYSELF! Hard fact to face! The spirit that joyfully returns love for hate, blessing for cursing, goodness for badness. I don’t have it, but here is the great good news of Christmas! Hear it:
“IT’S ALL POSSIBLE ONLY IN THE MARVELOUS ROOT OF CHRISTMAS, THE
ROOT THAT GROWS UP IN THE BARREN SOIL OF THE HUMAN SOUL.”
The Apostle Paul puts it so well in Ephesians 3:17,
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that
you, BEING ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE.”
I don’t know by the time you read this how many days there are until Christmas. Never mind, THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS IS FULLY AVAILABLE TO YOU NOW, so that asking Him to take firm root in your heart, you can freely and joyfully live His liberating words in Ephesians 4:32,
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Now we are starting to discover THE WONDERFUL ROOT OF CHRISTMAS AND THE ENTIRE CHRISTIAN LIFE. His dry-ground rootage was prophetic in itself, in that He comes to give us all, and receives nothing from us that he didn’t already give. As the Word of God states in Romans 11:36,
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
HOW DRY IS THE CHRISTMAS GROUND?
I am sure that you have heard or even spoke the phrase, “Dry as dust.” That also means, “Dead as a doornail.” There is no spiritual or moral vitality in the soil that Jesus comes to grow out of. “Dry as hay.”
When the prophet Isaiah in 53:2 says,
“He shall grow up as a root out of dry ground,”
He is talking SPIRITUALLY AND MORALLY, not agriculturally. The human race (the dry ground) that Jesus chose TO GROW OUT OF was nothing short of DEAD IN SIN. There was not a lick of spiritual or moral life in it. It was not only spiritually and morally dead, but also whatever is dead is always full of decay and filth and corruption. You can’t always see it on the surface, but what is dead is decaying and rotting. Look at the society around you! No, look deep within yourself without Christ.
Another youthful misconception was that I should not drink water right out of the stream, because the fish urinate in it. Misconceived indeed, for what we should tell our children today is that the fish are not really the OFFENDERS as much as they are the VICTIMS. The real culprits are men and their factories and their raw sewage that have polluted the waterways.
Lord God, we have polluted the earth, not the fish or the animals. My gracious Lord, that You should disrobe Yourself of Your eternal excellencies, and come and wrap Yourself up in our dead, dry, decaying dust and ashes! And to be one with spiritual and moral carcasses like us, with nasty creatures and viler sinners! And all of that to rescue spiritual and moral corpses from their death and decay, who otherwise would have rotted in filth in this life, only to be burned in fire forever in the next. Hear it:
“IF JESUS CHRIST HAD NOT GROWN UP OUT OF DRY GROUND TO BE OUR
REDEEMER, WE WOULD BE ON FIRE FOREVER IN THE PLACE
AND STATE OF DEVILS.”
THE 1930’S DUST BOWL
The Dust Bowl of the 1930s lasted about a decade. Its primary area of impact was on the southern Plains. The northern Plains were not so badly affected, but nonetheless, the drought, windblown dust and agricultural decline were no strangers to the north. In fact the agricultural devastation helped to lengthen the Depression whose effects were felt worldwide. The movement of people on the Plains was also profound.
As John Steinbeck wrote in his 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath:
“And then the dispossessed were drawn west – from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand! They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless – restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do – to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut – anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land.”
And as the droughts of the early 1930s deepened, the farmers kept plowing and planting and nothing would grow. The ground cover that held the soil in place was gone. The Plains’ winds whipped across the fields raising billowing clouds of dust to the skies. The skies could darken for days, and even the most well-sealed homes would have a thick layer of dust on furniture. In some places the dust would drift like snow, covering farmsteads.
Get that picture in your mind, and you will better be able to see the COSMIC CHRISTMAS DUST BOWL that the Root of Christmas grew IN AND OUT OF. The 1930 Dust Bowl is only a small picture of what Isaiah 53:2 is trying to reveal to us. It is not possible to exaggerate, but so easy to understate. The cosmic unspiritual and immoral dust was so thick that by the time THE CHRISTMAS ROOT BEGAN TO GROW, the dust had gagged and choked and killed the entire human race.
THE SINLESS ROOT OF CHRISTMAS
You see, THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS grew up out of dry ground, but the dry ground did not drain Him of spiritual and moral life like it did all of us. He did not spiritually and morally die of thirst like the rest of us. How could that be?
The ROOT OF CHRISTMAS did not have one spot of root rot as He grew out of our lifeless ground. We read these astounding words in Hebrews 4:15,
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as
we are, YET WITHOUT SIN.”
It is not just dead ground that the “Baby Christmas Root” grows in and out of, but it is DEADLY ground for babies. I know of no parent, who is really a parent, who would rather have his daughter DEAD than to have her DEVIRGINIZED. A man by the name of Virginius demanded that his daughter live up to his name. Dad Virginius in the days of the Roman Empire took it upon himself to rescue his daughter from the lust of a certain Appius Clodius, by stabbing her to death with his own knife. Virginity was once prized higher than life itself. Where have all of the VIRGINS AND VIRGINIUSES gone?
Now the products of virginity-lost are being stabbed to death by the modern mothers’ Doctors of Infanticide at the mothers’ requests by the millions each year. Today neither CHASTITY NOR LIFE have much value any longer. The DUST BOWL OF ABORTION is choking multiplied millions of babies to death. The ABORTION DUST BOWL sends up clouds of deadly dust that dwarf the smoke clouds of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. In that dead and deadly ground the Messiah grew, and as soon as He did, the demons of infanticide tried to kill Him too.
But this is not just another baby! Now hear the words again,
“YET WITHOUT SIN.”
The ROOT OF CHRISTMAS had to be planted in and grow up out of the polluted soil of humanity if He was to rescue humans from their dusty, soul-damning sins. But also, and it is a HUGE BUT, the ROOT had to be RIGHTEOUS to BE ABLE TO EFFECTIVELY DIE FOR SINNERS. He could not be contaminated by the depraved soil that he had to enter into and grow up out of. Why did He have to be HUMAN and also a SINLESS HUMAN. Because:
“IF THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS HAD BEEN TAINTED BY THE DEAD AND DEADLY
SOIL OF HUMANITY, HE WOULD HAVE SIN OF HIS OWN, AND THEREBY
COULD NOT DIE FOR THE SINS OF OTHERS SUCH AS YOU AND ME.”
If you will:
“HE COULD NOT BE SINFUL AND THEREFORE SUBJECT TO CONDEMNATION,
IF HE WAS TO JUSTIFY THOSE WHO IN THEIR SINS STOOD
“HOW COULD HE JUSTIFY SINNERS WHEN HE HIMSELF WAS
In other words, something had to take place that would be the greatest miracle of human conception and birth that could ever be devised or take place in the history of the human race. Something that was naturally impossible and inconceivable, and only supernaturally conceivable and birthable. Listen:
“IT WOULD NOT AND COULD NOT BE THE WORK OF HUMAN GYNECOLOGY, BUT EXCLUSIVELY
THE WORK OF THE INFINITE SKILL AND POWER OF DIVINITY.”
So we read God’s Word in Luke 1:26, 27, 30, 31, 32, 34, 35,
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city
in Galilee, called Nazareth,” “to a VIRGIN engaged to a man
whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David,
and the VIRGIN’S NAME WAS MARY.”
“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found
favor with God.”
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a Son, and you
shall call His name JESUS (Savior).”
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High….”
“And Mary said to the angel, “How can these things be, since
I am a VIRGIN.”
“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come
upon you,and the powerof the Most High will overshadow
you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall
be called the Son of God.”
If you will:
“THE RIGHTEOUS ROOT SHALL BE NOT BE CONCEIVED IN YOU MARY
BY THE SEMEN OF JOSEPH, BUT BY THE MIRACLE OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
Hear it strong:
“THE MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION AND BIRTH OF THE SAVIOR BY THE HOLY
SPIRIT WAS NOT TO PRESERVE THE MOTHER’S VIRGINITY, BUT RATHER,
TO PRESERVE THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS FROM HIS MOTHER’S
“WHEN THE ANGEL SAID TO MARY, “THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL COME UPON
YOU,” IT WAS HIS WAY OF THROWING UP HIS HANDS AS HIGH AS HE
COULD TO HEAVEN AS THE SOLE SOURCE OF THIS UNHEARD OF
Mark it well:
“THE ANGEL’S ANNOUNCEMENT WAS NOT THE EXALTATION OF MARY,
BUT RATHER, IT WAS THE EXALTATION OF THE SINLESS ROOT
WHO WOULD MIRACULOUSLY COME FORTH UNSPOTTED
FROM HIS MOTHER’S AND HUMANITY’S DRY, DEAD
AND DECAYING SINFUL HUMANNESS.”
“THE ANGEL’S WORDS WERE NOT MEANT TO FIRST OF ALL TO PROVE
MARY’S VIRGINITY, BUT TO PROVE JESUS’ SINLESS PURITY.”
If you will:
“MARY WAS BUT THE RECEPTACLE OF THE RIGHTEOUS ROOT OF CHRISTMAS,
BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS THE CREATOR, INPREGNATOR, DEVELOPER,
AND BIRTHER OF THE RIGHTEOUS ROOT OF CHRISTMAS.”
Oh yes, I now that by now some women reading this are calling me a MALE CHAUVINIST PIG. Not so fast! I am not saying that MOTHER MARY is not of great importance to the ROOT OF CHRISTMAS being brought forth. She indeed was God’s chosen mother for Jesus! We applaud and honor her for submitting to the will of God at great risk to herself in terms of the judgmental and vicious attacks of men. But what we must understand clearly is this:
“IF IT WASN’T FOR THE COMING UPON HER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHAT
MARY CONCEIVED THROUGH SEXUAL UNION WITH JOSEPH WOULD
HAVE BEEN A COMPLETE MISCONCEPTION AND FAILURE WHEN IT
COMES TO THE REDEMPTIVE PURPOSES OF GOD.”
“MARY’S CHILD COULD NOT BE THE SAVIOR, BUT WOULD HAVE TO BE
SAVED LIKE ALL CHILDREN BORN FROM SINFUL,
“SUBTRACT MARY, AND THEN THERE IS NO HOLY OFFSPRING, BUT
SUBTRACT THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THEN THERE IS ONLY
AN UNHOLY OFFSPRING.”
Mary was not highly favored because she was the least dry and dusty of all available virgins. No, she was highly favored in that from her dry, dusty, sinful humanity the LAMB WITHOUT SPOT would be brought forth – THE ONLY HOLY CHILD EVER BORN FROM AND TO A WOMAN. SINLESS CHILD!
It must have been a piece of cake for babysitters to baby sit Jesus. I know what kids are like. I have four of my own all married with children of their own. When the cat’s away, the mice will play. I recall the groggy baby sitter being payed her fee, which is those days was still unset. And then asking her, “How were the children, did they behave?” I could sense when she was shell shocked and didn’t want to reveal her trauma. So I slipped her another dollar and told her that she did a great job in that the children didn’t kill each other and were unharmed. Good job!
YES INDEED, THE ROOT OUT OF DRY GROUND was and always will be THE SINGULAR MIRACLE SUPER-NATURAL of all time and eternity. Only the Holy Spirit of God could pull it off. People yet today doubt it after 2,013 Christmases, because they don’t like their minds being made fools of. Surely, it is very embarrassing being exposed to infinitely superior knowledge and power.
That is why men still today try to ignore the TRUE TENDER PLANT AND ROOT OF CHRISTMAS, and cover Him over with MISTLETOE, HOLLY, FERNS, PINE BRANCHES, and all kinds of lush greenery. Just so the ROOT’S TENDER PLANT does not get top billing. After all, He is such a pesky weed, and seems to shoot up every year around this time.
But the glorious miracle of THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS cannot be uprooted, and THE TENDER PLANT OF BETHLEHEM sprouts up again, telling the whole world that:
“BY THIS STUPENDOUS MIRACLE OF THE CHRISTMAS ROOT, THE
SON OF GOD WAS MADE THE SON OF MAN, THAT THE SONS
OF MEN MIGHT BE MADE THE SONS OF GOD.”
THE ROOT’S TRANSFORMING POWER
THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS IS A DRY GROUND ROOT, for you see,
“IT IS IN THE DRY BARREN SOULS OF MEN BLIGHTED BY SIN
WHERE THE CHRISTMAS ROOT THRIVES AND DOES HIS
GREATEST AND MOST TRANSFORMING WORK.”
So the CHRISTMAS ROOT sprang up over 2000 years ago, and continues to spring up around the world and thrive in the hardest and driest of soils. That my friend is the miracle of Christmas!
But Lord, my life is a spiritual and moral wilderness howling with the haunting memories of sin and shame and sorrow. Yes, I know what you mean. I am no stranger to what you are talking about. I too was once an empty ghost town with tumbleweeds blowing down the deserted and empty streets of my heart.
But I’ve really got GOOD NEWS FOR YOU THIS CHRISTMAS. I want you to have the best Christmas that you ever had. I want to introduce to you today THE CHRISTMAS ROOT WHO ALONE CAN MAKE YOUR DESERT BLOSSOM LIKE A ROSE. And as we read in Isaiah 58:11,
“The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched
places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be a
like a watered garden, and like a spring of water
whose waters do not fail.”
Reflect with me for a few moments on the “hard soil” in which Jesus takes root and thrives and transforms.
Remember now that the Lord Jesus never finds the human heart to be fertile soil. It is characterized by darkness, greed, envy, and pride. In the human heart He finds not only sickness, but death. Jesus is THE ROOT WHO GROWS IN DRY GROUND.
1. Think of Saul of Tarsus, the great persecutor of the early church, and murderer of Christians. We can see him incensed against Christ as he holds Stephen’s lifeless garment as the evangelist is stoned to death. Yet Saul of Tarsus, this hard and calloused heart, became the seedbed of the Gospel of Salvation of the crucified and risen Lord, and perhaps the greatest Christian missionary who ever lived.
What an encouragement to someone who feels his heart is too deeply stained for God to forgive and accept him! And what an encouragement to someone whose current place in life might be characterized as dead, dry and barren!
2. Or think of David Wilkerson proclaiming the gospel in the barren, dead, and deadly territory of New York City gangs—only to see their lives changed by the living Christ who springs up in the most unlikely places. The ROOT OF CHRISTMAS transformed hate into love, rage into righteousness, madness into mercy. So we should not lose heart. The Seed is planted and watered even in the hardest and driest of soils. Then, in His own time, Christ springs up and grows, changing and transforming lives and entire cultures.
3. There are certain areas of the world where the soil is unusually hard and dry. The resistance to the Gospel is strong and sometimes met with hostility. There are places where the messenger is in grave danger as he seeks to plant the seed. But, in God’s time, the seed sprouts. Think of China enslaved for decades by oppressive Marxism during the twentieth century. Yet as doors began to open late in the century, it became obvious that the living Christ had taken root and flourishes there.
Some estimate that there are now 155 to 159 million Christians in China, which in reality are both large and small numbers. There are now more Christians in China than in the United States, but this number still represents only about 11% of China’s 1.4 billion people. As large as the Lord’s harvest is becoming in China, it has only just begun. The Lord alone knows how many are truly born again Christians. The ROOT OUT OF DRY GROUND IS TRANSFORMING CHINA UNDER GREAT RESISTANCE.
4. Angola prison in Louisiana has a tough hundred-year history. The facility is the size of Manhattan Island, and home to 5000 inmates carrying out life sentences. It is the place where the ‘worst of the worst’ go and never come out. Inmates used to sleep with a magazine stuffed inside their shirts, their best defense against a 3:00 a.m. knifing.
That was until the mid-1990s, when Warden Burl Cain came to Angola. Cain’s conviction that moral rehabilitation is the surest way to recover a prisoner’s humanity has completely changed the culture of Angola over the last 20 years. Under Cain’s direction, New Orleans Baptist Seminary started offering Bible classes inside the prison. The program grew, and today a full range of seminary classes is available to qualified inmates, complete with Hebrew and Greek.
The incidence of prison violence has been reduced by 73 percent. The Bible classes led to the establishment of inmate-led churches. These worshiping communities in Angola are the heart of the prison’s transformation. Jesus is indeed using His church as organism and as institution to bring hope and help for this life, and for the life to come. Indeed:
“THE ROOT GROWING OUT OF DRY GROUND, INDEED SOME OF THE DRIEST
GROUND IMAGINABLE, IS SAVING AND RECREATING SINNERS INTO
SAINTS, AND CHANGING BROKEN LIVES INTO NEW
CREATIONS IN CHRIST.”
And now, Professor John Rottman of Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, having visited Angola several times, is likewise conducting seminary classes in Handlon Medium Security Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. Handlon prison has become a seminary extension site mind you. Now in its fifth class at Handlon, the program is bearing fruit.
And now, a small group of inmates have established a Christian Reformed Church congregation inside the prison, pastored by Calvin Seminary alum Andy Hanson. There are now about 50 people attending church every Sunday in the Handlon Church. The Root of Christmas is growing and flourishing in Angola and Handlon. Glory be to God! (From Calvin Theological Seminary Forum, Fall 2013, Engaging the World.)
The Root Out of Driest Ground is transforming the most spiritually and morally barren landscapes in America, even though her present godless, Marxist government with its present Moslem/Marxist President, is doing its worst to harass and stop the growth of the TENDER PLANT OF CHRISTMAS, and to stomp it out once and for all. It never will, for the Root of Christmas is impossible to uproot, and the Tender Plant of Christmas is indestructible. So we read the words of the angel Gabriel to the virgin may in Luke 1:33,
“and His kingdom will have no end.”
Sad to say, there are yet entire churches in America and throughout the world that are barren, dry, howling wildernesses, even though they appear healthy and strong. They need so desperately the transforming ROOT OF CHRISTMAS to take root in their hearts. He hasn’t taken root there, even though the churches go through the motions of proper religion. What are growing there instead are the roots of pride, prejudice, and discrimination.
According to the account, an old black brother got saved in the deep south of the United States many years ago. Racial prejudice was rampant. The only congregation around was a white congregation. The old brother, who had really been changed by the power of God, had lost all his prejudice, and so he went to the church board and told them about his conversion and humbly asked permission to come to services. They didn’t want him, but were unwilling to say so at that point, so they told him to live it for a year. They thought he might lose out and give up.
But they were mistaken. God blessed the brother, and he lived for God the whole year and showed up again. This time they just outright told him that they didn’t want him and sent him away. According to the story, he went and prayed about it. He cried out to the Lord,
“Lord, they won’t let me in, and I so much want to be with Your people.”
And according to the story, God answered him and said,
“I’ve been trying to get in that place for years. If they won’t
let Me in, whatchance do you have?”
“THERE IS NOTHING AS DEADLY AND CRUEL AND VICIOUS AS A DRY,
DEAD, LIFELESS, LOVELESS, RACIST CHURCH.”
Why? Because the loveless church above all else is the starkest contrast in the world to the Christ whose name it bears and defiles. Church-hurts somehow go the deepest, last the longest, and do the most damage of many of the hurts that pain people.
The Lord tells us in His Word that those WHO HATE THEIR BROTHERS ARE MURDERERS. (I John 3:15) Why is that? Why are HATERS CALLED MURDERERS by the Lord? Isn’t that extreme and a greatly exaggerated, quantum leap? No, not according to our Lord. Simply because the person who hates, deep down wishes that the hated person was dead, or at the least, non-existent. The HATER’S HEART COUGHS AND CHOKES IN THE DUST OF HOMICIDAL HATRED, even though he never pulls an actual trigger. He instead kills with his heart, his looks, his words, his actions. And if looks could kill, the hated person would be dead many times over.
All men by sinful nature have roots of racism and prejudice growing deep in their hearts. The soil of racism is just as dusty and killing today as it has ever been. MUCH OF THE WORLD TODAY IS STILL A RACIST DUST BOWL. And that includes church people. I have seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. I could give you tragically cruel and true stories too many to count. Like the man in front of me in line at a fast food restaurant, and who obviously was from a local church whose pastor was seeking to integrate the congregation. He said to the adult he was with:
“THE PASTOR HAS GOT A BIG SURPRISE COMING IF HE THINKS HE IS
GOING TO MAKE MY CHILDREN GO TO CHURCH WITH BLACK
CHILDREN. I WILL WITHHOLD MY TITHE BEFORE
I LET THAT HAPPEN. AND MANY OTHERS
FEEL THE SAME WAY.”
The pastor has since moved to another state, forced to leave by tithe-withholding racists in the church.
“THERE IS NOTHING SO BEAUTIFUL, WARM, AND LOVING AS THE CHURCH
IN WHICH THE ROOT OF CHRISTMAS IS DEEPLY ROOTED
AND FULLY ALIVE.”
“BECAUSE LIKE THE CHRISTMAS ROOT THAT GROWS IN THEM, THEY
NOT ONLY UNCONDITIONALLY LOVE THEIR NEIGHBORS AS
THEMSELVES, BUT THEY LIKE JESUS LOVE THEIR
NEIGHBORS BEFORE THEMSELVES.”
Have you invited the ROOT OF CHRISTMAS into your heart? Has this church, really?! Has He begun to grow and transform our barren, dead, dry lifeless and loveless hearts into glorious and fruitful gardens of love, selflessness, acceptance, and holiness for the glory of God? Only THE CHRISTMAS ROOT can! May we each be able to say before this Christmas passes:
As a root out of a dry ground
He grew up in my soul;
And as the days and hours went by,
His grace has made me whole.
For surely He has borne my griefs;
My sins on Him were laid;
He was my living sacrifice;
Atonement has been made.
He was afflicted for my wrongs,
For me they pierced His side;
His sacred blood for me was shed,
For me the Savior died.
He paid the debt I could not pay;
He took the sinner’s place;
And from this hour with joy I’ll tell
Of Jesus’ wondrous grace.
As a root out of a dry ground
He still grows up in my soul;
And as the days and hours go by,
His grace is still making me whole.