Christ The Root
Text: Isaiah 53:2
Sermon by - Rev. Thomas Murray

(Markethill Free Presbyterian Church)

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.


This chapter is one of the most wonderful and precious chapters in the entire Bible. Martin Luther, the great Protestant reformer, said it ought to be written on parchment of gold and lettered in diamonds. It has been referred to as the "golden passional of the Old Testament" and as the "holy of holies of Isaiah."
As we enter through its veil we find the prophet in a state of shock. Lifting up his voice he cried out “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?”. While the word "report" here suggests to us the thought of words, the phrase “the arm of the Lord” speaks to us of his works. Despite hearing his words and seeing his miraculous works the prophet predicted that very few would believe. Confirming this to be the case John in his gospel taking up his pen he quotes these very words in John 12:38. Refusing to believe he then added in the following verse “Therefore they could not believe”. Refusing to believe his words and his works the Lord then blinding their eyes and hardening their hearts they were unable to believe.
Unbelief is extremely dangerous. It blinds the eyes and it hardens the heart. Indeed, the prophet lamenting on behalf of his people he said in Jeremiah 8:20 "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved". Not using the harvest or their opportunity to be saved it was then taken away. When men refuse to believe the Lord then hardening their hearts they cannot believe. Many years ago a number of miners in Wales conducted a "stay in strike". They refused for days and night to come up to the surface insisting their grievances must first be settled. When they finally did come they were so blinded by the sunlight that they staggered, and had to be led about in agony. If you continue not to use the light God has given you then one day you will become so blind so that you will not be able to see.

1. THE APPEARANCE OF CHRIST: Although God yet taking upon himself a human nature he had no extraordinary beauty to distinguish himself. Coming forth Isaiah described him not as the mighty cedars which decorated the hills of Lebanon but as a dry root. Note:-

a) He is Independent: Describing his position v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground:”. The phrase "dry ground" draws in our mind the picture of a drought-consumed wasteland. Unlike the root in rich fertile soil this root being in barren soil would have gotten nothing from its surroundings. Indeed, experts tells us such roots were tuberous and going down deep into the soil possess a special vitality in themselves. Unlike others roots they grow independent of their circumstances.
Being a root in dry ground Christ derives nothing from his surroundings. He is self-contained and self sustained. Indeed, coming up into the city of Jerusalem and answering the cruel and unfounded accusations of the Jews and setting forth his own character the Lord said in John 5:26
“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;”. In these words he was declaring his independence. Unlike all other beings who derive their life from him he reminded them that his life was within himself.
Christ is self-contained. He has no need of man or of any other being. The great theologian Louis Berkhof said "he is not only independent in himself, but also causes everything to depend on him". Rather than being dependent upon man he is independent of man. How many and in their foolishness imagine that God needs them and that without them he could not exist or be happy. God has no need of man. He longs for your adoration and love but he has no need of it. He has come not to get from you but go give to you. To give you pardon, peace, power and eternal life.

b) He Is Invisible: Coming and dwelling amongst men the prophet said in v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness”. While plants such as the epiphytic orchid produces aerial roots which absorb moisture from the atmosphere they are unusual. Roots naturally grows downwards towards the water. With every passing year they tunnel deeper and deeper beneath the earth. As such while the tree stands out resplendent its roots are normally hidden. They are invisible to the naked eye.
To the natural eye Christ is not visible but invisible. It is unable to see or perceive him. Remember, Moses and how faith entering into his heart and taking control of his feet we read in Hebrews 11:27 “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible”. Leaving the idols and corruption of Egypt he declared the Lord to be invisible. He was able only to see him with the eye of faith.
God is absolutely and essentially in his essence invisible. He cannot be perceived or seen by the natural eye. How foolish men are in making images of him. He cannot be seen. You say but how can I believe in that which I cannot see? You believe that when you flick that switch on in your home the light will come on. Yet can you see electricity? How many people today and emigrating their own children have never seen their grandparents. Yet hearing their parents talking about them and receiving gifts from them they still love them. You see sight is not necessary for faith or love. You can love that which you cannot see or hear. Will you love him?

c) He Is Indispensable: Setting forth his character he said in v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness”. The root is the most essential part of a plant. Remember, the parable of the sower and how some of the seed fell upon the rocky ground. While it eventually sprang up yet we are told that having no root it quickly withered away and died. Without a root the plant cannot live.
Being the root Christ is not a luxury but a necessity. Without him there is hope. Remember, Peter and speaking on the day of Pentecost he said in Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”. He reminded them Christ's name was not only the only name but it was a must for salvation.
Christ is indispensable. Without him there can be no fruit nor future. There are certain things in life which you can either do with or without. While a washing machine is very helpful yet if push comes to shove you could do with out it. But without Christ you will wither and becoming fruitless will perish. Without him you have no hope.

2. THE ABUNDANCE IN CHRIST: In the root of a tree there is no kind of beauty nor comeliness. While it looks dead and barren to the naked eye yet burrowing into the depths of the earth:-

a) It Provides Sustenance: Describing him the prophet said in v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground”. The primary function of the root is to absorb water and dissolve the mineral salts. Sucking them up it gathers them not for itself. Transforming it, it then communicates it unto its branches. Passing through their tender and slender veins to its leaves it provides greenness and eventually fruitfulness. All that the root has it gives unto its branches and leaves. It holds nothing back.
Christ is a communicative root. All that he has he gives unto his children. Having tasted of his goodness John the Baptist was not only satisfied but lifting up his voice he cried out in John 1:16 “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”. The Greek preposition 'ek' here signifies 'out of'. Receiving out of his fullness we see that nothing was held back from him. He gave him everything or as Paul put "all blessings in heavenly places".
Christ is a supplying root. He communicates all blessing unto his people. A man on one occasion asked a Christian what would Christ give him if he got saved. The Christian responding he said "What will he not give you?". As Joseph did not lay up the corn and wheat in the seven good years for himself neither did Christ in his death. Like Joseph he laid up his treasures for his subjects. When a father dies he often leaves all to his son. If he is under age he only get so much every year. But the moment a person is born into Christ he receives all blessings. As well as life, peace, joy he will give you the Holy Spirit and many other gifts. He will withhold no good thing from you.

b) He Provides Stability: Setting forth his greatness the prophet said in v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground”. As well as providing supplies for the tree the root provides anchorage. Digging deep down into the ground and wrapping its tentacles around the rock it holds it firm. Securing it, it stops the raging storms uprooting and sweeping it away. In the storms of life it keeps it secure and firm.
Christ anchors his people. He keeps them firm in the storms of life. Remember, the apostle Peter and writing unto the Jews in the midst of raging storms he said in 1 Peter 1: 5 “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”. He reminded them that the one who had redeemed them was able to keep them.
Saving his people the Lord then secures them. He keeps them by his mighty power. The hymn writer said -

"No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you!
Lean , weary one, upon his breast,
God will take care of you".

In the midst of the fiercest storms he will keep you. He will keep you in the storms and trials.

c) He Provides Sanctity: Speaking in Romans 11:16 Paul said "if the root be holy, so are the branches".
Christ being holy he provides not only release from sin but righteousness of soul. He imputes his holiness into his people. if only you invite him into your heart he will forgive your sin and cover you with his righteousness. He will make you holy in the sight of God.

3. THE ADVANCE OF CHRIST: Becoming a root the prophet said "he shall grow up before him". From these words we see:-

a) His Strength: v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant”. The phrase "a tender plant" here literally means a young or a suckling plant. While such a plant is small and normally easily broken or uprooted yet Herod and the combined might of the Jewish and Roman world were unable to break or destroy him.
Be not deceived. While Christ may seem weak and fragile he cannot be overcome or uprooted. Indeed , the lord warns us that if we do not fall upon him then he will fall upon and crush us. Do not mistake is tenderness for weakness. If your reject him he will in that day reject and crush you in his wrath.

b) His Situation: v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant. As well as growing in dry ground he is said to have grown up before him. When we go back in v1 we discover that the "him" refers to the unbelieving Jew. He grew up right beside them.
Christ is a root and a plant at hand. Despite the vastness of the universe he is right beside you. As the well of life was right beside perishing Hagar so Christ the fountain of life is right beside you. He is in this dry land ready and able to save you. If only you cry unto him he will hear and save you.
c) His Spread: v2 “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant. He is a growing plant or root.
Christ is not dead. His body is continually growing. Daily souls are coming to him. Will you let Christ graft you into himself today. I urge you to call upon him while you may.

If God has spoken to yo through these words or if you have been blessed by them then we would be glad to hear from you. EMail Rev Thomas Murray