December 2009

That’s how the prophet Isaiah described Him:

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground . . .” (Is. 53:2a).

Has there ever been a more unusual, disarming, eternal Truth than this one?

No, never before or since. And, there never will be.

But, then the Christmas Story has never been like any ever composed before—especially in this day-and-age of sound effects, fireworks, mysteries, suspense, dramatic rescues, thrillers, etc.

Yet, in reality, it is “The Story of the Ages” and never grows old. . .at least to those who love a good Love Story. . .for it tells of a time-and-place in history when Heaven came down to earth. . .bringing Hope for those who live in despair. . .and Love for those who’ve given up on ever experiencing it.

Yes, Isaiah’s description of this “Promised One from God” is intriguing. And, in a strange sort of way, it’s also inviting.

Everyone knows tender plants are quite fragile. Easily trampled underfoot. Or nipped off at ground level by hungry animals.

They’re also pretty inconspicuous—not something you’d take home to mama or carry to school for show-and-tell, unless it’s for a lesson on biology or something.

Yet, that’s exactly how Jesus’ coming as a tiny baby in a behind-an-inn stable manger looked from an earthly perspective—especially when the angelic host declared Him to be One sent from God to be the Savior of the world (Luke 2:8-11).

Babies are helpless and dependent. And, so was He, this One Who’d one day walk on water, make a blind man see, give cleansing to a woman of ill repute and raise one from the dead who’d been in the grave four days already.

But, you see, the Christmas Story had to begin that way—for, in many ways, we, too, are “tender plants” in this power-hungry, “I’ll step on you to get to the top of the ladder,” “It’s all about me” world of ours.

He didn’t ask for special favors when He left His Heavenly Home. No, like one born in a cold apartment filled with rats and roaches, where the money runs out before the month does, the Christ Child came into this world to tell us “You’re not alone” and “You are loved.”

And, it was no accident that He’d be born into a time best described as “dry ground.” The Roman government’s rule was oppressive. Taxation was high. Religion was lifeless and filled with meaningless rituals where worshippers (if they attended services) simply went through the motions.

It’d been a long time since there’d been a fiery prophet standing on the street corner, crying “Thus says the Lord” or “Repent.” For over 400 years it seemed God was on vacation—or at least uninterested in what was going on here on terra firma.

So, yes, “dry ground” seemed like a good description of things. . .both then. . .and now.

We all know dry ground is “thirsty ground.” It’s parched ground. Hard ground. Cracked open from the heat ground. Lifeless ground.

And, it’s certainly not conducive to the growth of tender plants—especially in an environment where only the strong survive (or so it seems).

But, survive He did.

Despite an attempt by King Herod to snuff Him out (Matthew 2:16-18), God’s Tender Plant (Jesus) not only survived, He conquered.

Although despised and rejected. . .mocked, misunderstood and maligned. . .abandoned and abused. . .beaten and bruised. . .this Tender Plant—which was/is really Heaven’s Rose— would one day be nailed to an old, rugged Cross and for three days it looked like the forces of evil had won as they buried Him in a borrowed tomb.

But, early one morning the Christmas Story became the Easter Story, which is the message of Good News for those who are thirsty and have nothing with which to pay for something to drink (John 4:1-42; Psalm 63:1-7; 107:1-31; Isaiah 44:3; 55:1-3, 6; Joel 2:21-32; Revelation 22:17).

Here’s hoping you’ve experienced this beautiful Story firsthand. God bless you.