"I am the Root and the Offspring of David."—Rev. 22:16

Countless proofs attest that Scripture is the Word of God. Among them this verse claims lofty place. Volumes of grand truth are here comprised in a brief sentence. Immensities are uttered in a breath. Thoughts which exceed limits are exhibited in microscopic space. The wonder here unveiled is Jesus in His person as God-man. No mortal mind could have conceived this truth. A divine pen could only teach it. "Holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Pet. 1:21)

Let attention be now fixed on the announcement of Jesus: "I am the Root and the Offspring of David." Incredulity is startled, and exclaims: It cannot be! How can one person be alike the parent and the progeny of another! How can He originate and also receive existence! The Root may bear the branch; the branch may germinate from the Root; but they are essentially diverse. The Root and the topmost boughs cannot intertwine. The glacier, which is the cradle of the stream, cannot also be its final bed. Jesus uses this seeming impossibility to silence the cavils of the Pharisees, "If David then call Him Lord, how is He his Son?" (Matt. 22:45) The union of God and man alone can give reply.

View Jesus. As God, He is the Root of David; as man, He is his offspring. We here see the wonders of the Gospel-scheme, the pivot on which salvation turns, the unfathomable ocean whose breadth and length no power of man can scan. Let us sit humbly at the shore, and mark some ripples breaking at our feet.

I. The Offspring of David. When sin upset the world, and man became the bond-slave of the devil, the victim of eternal wrath, an alien from God's family, and the prey of every form of misery; mercy flies on rapid wing to bring a healing balm. A staff is given to support the wretched outcast. A prospect is exhibited on which hope might repose. Recovery is announced. The promise sweetly sounds, that one in human form should repair the breach, and crush the serpent's head. The seed of the woman should restore the fallen culprit to all, and more than all, that had been lost through sin. Thus the first-born prophecy declares that in fullness of time a deliverer should arise, offspring of the family of man.

At first the prophecy is general, and specifies only human birth. As time rolls on, predictions assume a more especial garb. Their features become more exact. Intimations speak in graphic terms, and precise pictures are displayed. Heralds of His advent sound distinct preludes. Suffice it to remind that the period of His assuming human garb is clearly told, the very place in which He shall draw the first breath of life is added; the tribe, also, is named, which shall be made preeminent by His birth. But the present subject calls chief notice to the fact that the family is specified which shall boast this grand distinction. The seed of the woman shall be born the Offspring of David.

The prophet, from whose lips Gospel-predictions flowed in clear stream, sung unmistakably: "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." (Isa. 11:1) A mark is thus fixed on the parentage of Jesus. The truth too is annexed, that in this family, when it shall be low in obscurity, and the scepter should seemingly have departed, He shall arise out of the ashes of the smoldering house a bright flame, and shall enlighten the Gentiles, and become the glory of His people Israel. Similarly the same prophet sings, "To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth even forever." (Isa. 9:6, 7) The seed of the woman shall be born in the house of David.

David, also, himself received the glorious tidings. The great honor of his house was stated to him. The inspired Nathan thus comforted the king, "When your days are over, and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish His kingdom." (2 Sam. 7:12) The memory of this promise lived from age to age, and Paul avowed its fulfillment: "From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as He promised." (Acts 13:23)

Other Scriptures specify David as the progenitor of the woman's seed. The riches of redemption are displayed as "the sure mercies of David." A blessed prospect brightens, "They will serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them." (Jer. 30:9) The cheering word goes forth, after years of humiliation shall have been their doom, "The children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their King, and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." (Hos. 3:5) Thus when the Desire of all nations shall appear, His cradle shall be in David's house.

It is a soul-assuring task to contemplate the exact fulfillment. If any word of prophecy should fail, the fabric of salvation falls. But as surely as the word was spoken, so surely in the set time, the angel Gabriel seeks the highly favored Mary, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. She hears that she is to become the mother of the promised Savior. It is added, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:32, 33) In accordance, the angel encourages the wondering shepherds: "Fear not! for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10, 11) Thus expectations are fulfilled, and Jesus breathes the breath of life as David's Offspring.

What floods of peace and consolation flow from this fact! Jesus verily assumes our nature, as truly man as any mother's son can be, one of our kindred and our race. Thus what man should bear He can bear, what man should do He can do. Is blood required to wash out sin? He has blood to shed. Must death be suffered? He can die. Must the law be rigidly obeyed? As man He can supply obedience. Must each transgression meet inexorable curse? On Him, as man, the curse can fall. Can none enter heaven but in robes of perfect purity? Such garment is wrought out by Christ. Thus David's Offspring is complete salvation to all who, by the Father's decree, are given to Him. By His atoning merits He so cleanses those who no shadow of a charge against them can be found. He so adorns them with the beauties of unsullied righteousness, that heaven's portals open widely to admit them.

But His people are not only thus fully saved, but as a man Jesus is qualified to cheer them by His sympathizing love. He has lived and felt and suffered pain as man; therefore He can be touched with all the feeling of our infirmities; therefore "in all our afflictions He is afflicted." Hence He is skilled by fellow-feeling, and acquaintance with human woe to pour balm into every bleeding heart, to wipe away all tears of sorrow, to calm the troubled breast; "to give to those who mourn beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." (Isa. 61:3) Thanks be to God for Jesus, the Offspring of David.

II. The Root of David. Jesus is not only the Offspring of David, He also is his Root. Let holy reverence meekly bow, and adoration raise a loftier strain. The Root is that which, hidden from sight, is the spring and origin of life to trees and herbs and countless offspring of the garden and the plain. Thus Jesus is the cause of life to David. But who can be the author of life to man but He who has almighty and creative powers! God only can confer existence. Hence the Root of David must be God. Thus David worshiped Him as Lord, and in frequent hymns adored Him as his God. Let not our lips be backward in ascribing praise to Him as "God over all, blessed forevermore," "the God of our salvation."

Can we too often dwell upon the truth, that He alone can be our Savior whose arm wields omnipotence, and who is arrayed in garments of almightiness, and rides in the chariot of Deity? Salvation's work requires Deity, because it requires all infinity. The sins to be obliterated are infinite in number, and each is infinite in guilt, hence infinite must be the value of the atoning blood and of the expiating suffering. Infinite wrath must be appeased; infinite strength alone can bear it. The debt to be paid is infinite, infinite resources alone can liquidate. The enemy who opposes is mighty, adamantine are the chains by which his victims are bound; who less than the mighty God can crush this foe, trample down his legion, shatter his scepter, liberate his captives, and sit as conqueror over his demolished empire? But Jesus is God, and therefore is infinitely mighty to achieve this work. By proclaiming Himself as David's Root, He proclaims Himself as seated on the throne of God. Thanks be to God that our Jesus is David's Root.

Faith here delights to behold more than David. When it contemplates Jesus as David's Root, it sees Him too as the Root of all the family of faith. Indeed, He is the Root of their being as men and as believers—the origin and support of all their life, and power, and grace, and hopes. In Him, as God, "they live and move and have their being." He willed, and they received the gift of never-failing existence. They have the breath of life, because He breathed it into them. But small would be the benefit of natural life, unless the soul revived. It would only be a brief passage to eternal woe, the flickering of a sickly candle, even to expire in everlasting night. To live is no blessing, unless we live to God. But Jesus is the Root of spiritual life. He by the Spirit imparts new being to the inner man. Thus He teaches, "I am the Vine, you are the branches." "As the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself."

The fertility of the tree depends on the vitality of the Root. This Root is ever lively, strong, incapable of weakness or decay. Christ, strong as Deity can be, thus sustains the being, the vigor, the fruitfulness of His people.

Satan, doubtless, has never ceased to aim malignant blows against this Root. But all his rage and fury have been vain. Christ is secure, inhabiting the bosom of His God; thus "our life is hidden with Christ in God." Let then all fears depart. "His sheep shall never perish, and none shall ever pluck them out of His hands."

Another thought must not be overlooked. If the Root be holy, even so are the branches. All springing from this sacred source become trees of righteousness, and are richly laden with all holy fruit. Hence true believers give evidence of their holy birth, "shining as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life." All who see them take knowledge of those who they are one with Jesus.

The mark of the heirs of darkness is also visibly displayed. "By their fruits you shall know them." As in these there is no change of nature, so they continue in the fleshly state. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like." (Gal. 5:19-21) How frightful is this catalogue! How hideous are the features in which such lines are seen! How dreadful is the condition of all who bear these signs! It is added, "of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:21) If the eye of any of this class should rest on this page, may God in the riches of His grace apply the word of warning before it is too late, and the decree goes forth, "He who is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still." (Rev. 22:11)

The entreaty sounds: Linger not among the branches blackening for the burning. You may yet be broken off from the wild olive tree, and grafted by grace into the stem of salvation. Oh! cry earnestly and without ceasing, O gracious God! deliver me from this fearful state. O blessed Jesus! I implore You by all the love for man which from eternity has filled Your heart, by all the grace which led You to take our nature and endure our curse, by all the precious blood which flowed from Calvary's cross, by all the might of Your never-failing prayer, by all the brightness of Your millennial reign, by all the glories of Your everlasting kingdom, by all the happiness of heaven, make me Yours and keep me Yours forever. Let me hear the assurance, 'I make you one with Myself by transforming grace forever.'