"On that day, A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom." (Isaiah 11:1) This stump is a symbol of the line of the kings of Israel. The tree was cut off when Israel was taken into exile by Assyria in 722 BC and the Jews were deported in 586 BC. The tribes of Israel were named because they were descendants of the sons of Jacob. The northern 10 tribes and the southern 2 tribes. The northern kingdom broke from the southern tribes because like many families a disagreement split them apart. The southern tribes were made of the descendants of Benjamin and Judah and had Jerusalem, the city with the temple.
Jerusalem also was home of the king. The king was in the line of David who was of the tribe of Judah. When the king was dethroned and taken into exile in 586 BC they lost their king. And since they were in exile for many years they forgot who was in line to be king. When Matthew's Gospel relates the genealogy of Jesus, he recognizes Jesus as coming from this line. This is a key point because the Messiah was always prophesied as being from this line. Jesus needed be from the tribe of Judah in the line of David in order to be the recognized as the king of Israel. The stump of Jesse blossoms because David is the son of Jesse, Jesus is the blossom of the line of David who then desires to graft all people to this line. Through our baptism we are grafted to this line.
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien beautifully images this stump that blossoms. When I think of this stump I get the picture from the movie produced by Peter Jackson. There is a white tree in the city of Gondor that blossoms when the true king is seated on the throne. It was believed the lineage of the true king had been lost so they had a steward until the heir would return. The tree never blossoms for the steward, only the king. Gondor is the city of men in the story and comes under attack. It was once before under attack when the king was killed by the enemy Sauron. When the king was killed the tree withered and did not bloom. In the movie we hear the story of the tree as Gandalf the wizard passes by with the Hobbit Pippin. When Aragorn enters the city and takes up the sword of the king the tree blossoms, giving hope to the kingdom. At the end of the movie the king is crowned and seated on the throne and the tree is in full bloom.
The blooms are pink, which is the color of joy. Advent calls for us to prepare for the coming of the Lord at the second coming and at Christmas. Let us prepare our hearts for this coming so we may rejoice at Christmas and at the second coming of Christ in our life.