(5.) On Christ as the Branch

(5.) On Christ as the Branch

(5.) On Christ as the Branch. 

“Joseph took his family and they settled in a town called Nazareth, so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled…. He shall be called a Nazarene (meaning ‘branch’).” (Matt. 2:23).

The striking words of the angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation had historical meaning to all faithful Jews: “The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1:32-33). Jesus, the child of Mary, and a descendant of David, will be the messianic fulfillment of the prophetic word God spoke to David in 2 Samuel 7:16: “And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” 

Unfortunately, David’s royal line soon seemed to betray the truth of the word from God. The kingdom divided, the king’s line proved to be disastrously unfaithful to the Lord, and they were all carried off in exile to Babylon. The royal line of David was chopped down, and the reign of David’s kingdom seemed nothing but a dead stump. But God’s word to David remained in place. The ideal king, the Messiah, would somehow emerge in Israel in due time. When Jesus was called “the son of David,” the people were acknowledging that He was indeed the fulfillment of the prophecy given so long ago. A Messiah, a righteous Branch, will shoot out miraculously from that dead stump. And Jesus is the Branch. Jesus is that new growth springing forth from that old root beneath the ground, given up for dead.

Isaiah 4:2-3: “In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and glory of the remnant of Israel. And it will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy – everyone who is written for eternal life in Jerusalem.” 

Isaiah 11:1-4: Then a Shoot will spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the Spirit of extraordinary wisdom and perfect understanding, the Spirit of shrewd counsel and a mighty warrior, the Spirit of inspired knowledge and reverence for the Lord. He will find delight in reverence for the Lord, and He will neither judge by appearances nor make His decisions based on rumors. But He will judge the weak with integrity, and defend the lowly with fairness.” 

Jeremiah 23:5-6: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and rule wisely, and will do what is just and right throughout the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely, and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘the Lord is our Righteousness’.” 

Jeremiah 33:15: “In those days and at that time, I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.” 

Zechariah 3:8: “Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you – indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold I am going to bring in my servant the Branch.” 

Zechariah 6:12: “Thus says the Lord of Hosts, Behold, a Man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is, and He will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, He who will receive royal honor and will rule as king on His throne. Thus He will also serve as priest from His throne, and there will be perfect harmony between His two roles.” 

In His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ proved to be the long expected Branch:

  • Like a branch, He lived in a way that would provide the most light possible to the people;
  • Like a branch, He carried water, living water, to the people who were thirsty;
  • Like a branch, He brought the necessary food materials and nutrients, the Bread of Life, to the people for their growth and flourishing;
  • Like a branch, He made it possible for true life to be sustained despite contrary conditions;
  • Like a branch, He spread His influence outward as widely as possible;
  • Like a branch, He was new growth sprouting from what appeared to be a dead stump;
  • Like a branch, He is the life-giving force in the Tree of Life;
  • Like a branch, He enabled the sap of the Holy Spirit to reach the people and produce the fruit of His Spirit;

And lo and behold, what little village becomes Jesus’ home? Nazareth, a word meaning “Branch.” Certainly the biblical scholars witnessing the crucifixion must have realized that Pilate’s sign on the cross, right there above Jesus’ head, proclaimed “Jesus the Branch, King of the Jews.”