He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
When I read this verse and think about my Savior, there are two things that stand out to me. First, the inconspicuous and humble nature of a seed, and secondly, the apparent lack of strength and power of a tender shoot. It makes me hesitant, at first blush, to compare these things to Jesus.
Every spring I have the same struggle, maybe some of you out there have a suggestion or two for me, I cannot evenly space my carrot seeds. I fight with their size and I fight with their ability to blend into the soil around them or float away on a breeze. Unlike the bright orange and crisp carrots I am able to pull out of the ground once they have reached their maturity, I am not attracted to any beauty or majesty in those seeds. Their appearance does not make me desire them and their humble beginning does little to predict their future as a life giving plant. Similar maybe to the man many thought was a simple son of a carpenter laying claim to a heavenly heritage and then offering up His life to save the world.
Then it happens, those tiny unassuming seeds germinate and I can see my row of future carrots! It is beautiful and it is hopeful seeing those tiny green tender shoots. They become precious and their appearance starts to reflect their life-giving nature. Sadly, the growth of these life-giving tender shoots often exposes the carelessness and impatience that plagued my planting of the seemingly less gratifying seeds as oftentimes my rows are full of clumps and gaps. I then vow to be a better gardener and I throw myself into protecting these tiny vulnerable shoots of green. They seem like a breath away from being eaten, trampled, choked out or dried up (Matthew: 13). They seem so new and full of life, new life, yet so powerless. Speaking as a new mom, NOTHING has changed my day-to-day more than a seemingly powerless new life. What is it that God tells us about the least of these? He says that they will become the greatest. How many times have we seen those little green leaves pushing up through and cracking concrete?
Jesus, our Tender Shoot, our life-giving Savior with a tender love and humble beginning, our POWERFUL New Life every day.
I came upon a crack today
In my cement foundation,
Your love was fighting to get in
And break my isolation.
Hammers and the like abound,
Who knew tender was the key.
In awe I pray these two small leaves
Will grow into a tree.