December 24: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Come, Rod of Jesse! Come, Dayspring and Redeemer!
The second and third verses of Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, written by Mark E. Hunt and inserted between Charles Wesley’s verses, summarize the story of Jesus’s birth and proclaim the reason for his birth. On this Christmas Eve day, it is appropriate for us to sing these words, and to recognize who Jesus is and why he came.
Jesus is the promised Dayspring from on high. Using the King James Version of the Bible, Hunt references Zechariah’s prophetic declaration that “the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). I love this idea of Jesus as the dawn, the sunrise. When we come to know Jesus, our hearts and minds are enlightened with the knowledge and understanding of salvation (Luke 1:77), and our lives emerge from darkness into forgiveness and mercy (v. 77-78). And as we come to know him more and more, his light grows and spreads on our paths, lighting the way (vs. 79).
Jesus is the promised Rod of Jesse. We know that Jesus is the fulfillment of a great many Old Testament prophecies, including those which spoke of his lineage. Jesus descended from King David, who was the son of Jesse. Isaiah 11:1 declares: “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” When we proclaim that Jesus is the Rod of Jesse and the Son of David, we declare that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised to the Israelites–a Messiah who would be their Savior, King, and Priest forever (Jeremiah 33:15-18). But we also recognize that these promises are not only for Israel, but for all who believe in Jesus. As Isaiah 11 continues in verse 10: “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek him.”
Which brings us to this: Jesus is the promised Redeemer. He came to earth to “taste our sadness” and “bring us gladness.” He came to rescue us from the darkness of sin and death. He came to die on the cross. Galatians 3:13-14 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Jesus, whom the prophets called Dayspring, Rod of Jesse, and Redeemer, came to save not only the Israelites, but all of God’s people who come to him by faith.
“This the everlasting wonder: Christ was born the Lord of all!”
For Reflection: Read Isaiah 9:2-7. What does this passage say about Jesus’s roles reflected in the titles Dayspring, Rod of Jesse, and Redeemer? Praise Jesus for who he is, and thank him for coming to bring you light, include you in his people, and save you.