The Humble King Comes 2: Peace


This is the second message in the series called The Humble King Comes. Throughout this series we are reflecting on Jesus, the Humble King who has come and will come again and what that means for our lives today. In my previous post, I focused on the hope this Humble King gives. With this post, I am inviting you to join with me in thinking about peace.

Many of us love to root for the underdog in a contest and one of the greatest underdogs to ever triumph in sports was the Leicester City Football Club.[i] For the majority of its 138-year history, Leicester City played in the second level of English football, now called the Championship League. But a poor performance in 2008, led to the team being relegated to the third level in English football, which is League One. In English football, the three worst teams at the end of the season drop down to the next lower league, and the three best teams get promoted to the next higher league. 2008-09 would be the only season in League One in Leicester City’s history, as they won the League One title and secured their promotion back to the Championship the next year. They won the Championship title in 2014, which meant automatic promotion to the English Premier League, the highest level for football in England, and considered by many to be the best league for club football in the world. In their first season back in the Prem since 2004, Leicester City barely escaped relegation. At the start of the 2015-16 season, they were given 5,000 to 1 odds of winning the Premier League title. But the team went on an incredible run, winning 23 games, tying 12, and losing only 3, to win the Premier League title.[ii] 

Many of us love to cheer for the underdog, but not many of us want to be the underdog. Given the choice between having the odds in our favor or being against us, I think that all of us would choose the former over the latter. But how do we get through those times when the odds are stacked against us? I am talking about those times when the costs of living is more than the income we have coming in, when there is more tasks to do in a day than we have time to do them, or when you know that there is something wrong with your body but you are too afraid to go to a doctor and get it checked out. And what makes all of these challenges worse is the social cost that usually accompanies them. You cannot do the things other people are doing when your finances are negative, people tend to think less of you when you are not able to accomplish the tasks they expect you to do, and sometimes people abandon you when you get sick, especially when there is a stigma attached with your illness, as is the case with mental illness.

Being overwhelmed by long odds against you can lead to despair, which can negatively affect our health. Diseases of despair include alcohol dependency, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts and behaviors which have soared over the past decade in the US.[iii] I suspect that the same thing is happening in Canada. We need something more than the resources we have in ourselves or in the world and for that we are going to turn to God’s Word, the Bible.

The Biblical Concept of “The Remnant”

And there we find a concept called “the remnant” which may seem puzzling to us. Because a remnant is the ultimate group of underdogs. One example of a remnant are the eight members of the family of Noah, the only human beings to survive the Flood. Another are the vastly outnumbered 7,000 faithful followers of Yahweh in the northern kingdom of Israel where pagan worship of Baal dominates with official support from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Isaiah draws our attention to another, and more significant for us, remnant that we want to reflect upon today. Because the success of an historical remnant means very little to us. It only means that sometime, somewhere, an underdog beat the odds and won. But a promise of future remnant success will mean a lot to us, IF we are part of the remnant that has been given the promise, and IF the One promising has the ability to make it happen. So let’s dig into our passage for today which is Isaiah 11:1-9.  

A Special Remnant: A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Starting off with verse one, we read, Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. (Isaiah 11:1 NLT) Right away, we see the concept of a remnant, but it is a very special remnant. Last week, we looked at the troubling times in which Isaiah served as a prophet to God’s people. And those times were hard because of threats to the kingdom of Judah from multiple fronts. The kingdoms of Israel and Syria attacked Judah to try to force her into an alliance with them against the fierce and mighty Assyrians. The King of Judah at that time, Ahaz, instead of trusting God for protection, made an uneasy alliance with the Assyrian Empire, and those Assyrians would eventually come against Judah after Syria and Judah were destroyed. But that would not be the end of Judah. The end of Judah would come when the Babylonian Empire would defeat Judah, destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and carry most of her people off into exile in Babylon around 586 BC. With this catastrophic defeat, the line of kings from the family of David would come to an end. This is significant because God promised David there would be a king from his lineage who would rule forever. We find that promise in 2 Samuel 7:16 where God said to David, And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” (2 Samuel 7:16 ESV)  With the Babylonian Exile, the line of royal descendents from David, the son of Jesse, was cut down like a giant tree, leaving only a lifeless stump behind. 

Jesus: The Shoot That Brings Vibrant Life from Dead Things

            Yet God promises that a new shoot will spring up from that lifeless stump. This is a new kind of remnant. Its main characteristic is not that it endures through challenging times, though it does do that. The main feature of this remnant is that it surprises us with vibrant life from dead things, life not only for itself, but also for others in the fruit that it bears. A new king from the line of David, but this will be a very, very special king, as the rest of our passage tells us. 

And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—

    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and might,

    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

He will delight in obeying the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2-3a NLT)

With more information, the identity of this king becomes clearer. Not only would this new shoot be a king worthy of worship from shepherds and wise men alike, he would also be endowed with the Spirit of God, giving him special powers for a special mission, and that mission would be characterized by his delight in obeying the Lord. Inspired by God, Isaiah is writing of a time centuries in the future when Jesus of Nazareth was born in humble circumstances to a poor carpenter and his teenage fiancée. He certainly did not look like a king, there was nothing in his appearance to attract us to him (see Isaiah 53:2). Though from the line of David, Jesus’ role as king was thrown further in doubt when he was arrested, falsely accused, beaten, whipped and nailed to a cross to die. Generally speaking, kings don’t get crucified. But this one did. And we know that Jesus is a king because of the surprising, even miraculous thing that happened on the third day after his death. This remnant surprised us again with vibrant life from dead things. Jesus rose from the dead and he now rules over creation as the regent of our heavenly Father. Jesus is alive and he has defeated sin, death and everlasting condemnation for all humanity. He freely gives forgiveness, salvation and eternal life to everyone who follows him as the king of their heart. 

Peace Through Justice, Harmony & Knowledge of the Lord

But Isaiah tells us even more about this king. He writes, 

He will not judge by appearance

    nor make a decision based on hearsay.

He will give justice to the poor

    and make fair decisions for the exploited.

The earth will shake at the force of his word,

    and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.

He will wear righteousness like a belt

    and truth like an undergarment. (Isaiah 11:3b-5 NLT)

Now the timeline has shifted, for the Messiah King will establish perfect justice on the earth. We all know from looking around us that this promise has not yet been fulfilled and so this is a promise that Jesus will fulfill when he comes again to this world. As we saw last week, the establishment of God’s righteous justice is something for which we all long. We want the wrongs of this world made right, and God’s promise is that the justice we long for will come. Jesus will make it so because he will judge, not according imperfect human evidence, but according to his own infinite knowledge and righteous character. We can trust Jesus to make all things right, including us, in the end.

Continuing on in Isaiah we read, 

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;

    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.

The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,

    and a little child will lead them all.

The cow will graze near the bear.

    The cub and the calf will lie down together.

    The lion will eat hay like a cow.

The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.

    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.

(Isaiah 11:6-8 NLT)

Again, like my previous post, we have before us an image of future perfect peace. In that post, the promise of peace included the end of all war between humans. Here we see the promise of peace in nature as predator and prey lie down together in harmony. It’s a promise that also applies to humans for we can be both predator and prey, and sometimes we can be both in the same day. 

Along with this peace comes protection. “Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” we read in verse 9. And then comes the icing on the cake,  for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. (Isaiah 11:9 NLT) Here we have a clue both to the cause of conflict and the foundation of peace. In a letter written by James, the younger brother of Jesus, we read, What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1 ESV) We often lack peace within and without because we do not fully know the Lord in a relational way. It is through knowing God that we grow to love him, it is through loving God that we begin to align our life with him, and it is through aligning our life with him that we have peace. Then and only then do we see that this lost and broken world cannot give us anything we need for life, but with God it becomes a precious crucible within which our loving God melts and drains away the impurities in our life, as we walk each day with him. With less of ourselves and more of God in our lives, we are able to see the greater purpose of God’s plan, that love came down in the person of Jesus to lift us and all creation up with his healing, selfless, unconditional love. That also gives a greater purpose to our lives, for the love God poured into our life is not just for us. It is meant to be shared with those around us so that as many people as possible can have inner peace now an all-encompassing peace at the end of time.

The Global Implications

We see the global nature of the future peace Jesus will bring in the last verse of our passage today: In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place. (Isaiah 11:10 NLT)

Like a banner being held up high by a victorious army, Jesus will draw to himself everyone who has eyes that see, and ears that hear, and a heart that believes that in him is the peace that they have always wanted. Peace with God, peace with themselves, peace with the people around them, peace with all of God’s creation as harmony is restored. The fulfillment of the peace that Jesus promises will surpass all understanding. It will be more than we could ever ask or imagine. But that peace promised by Jesus is real, it will happen, and it is for us.

 What does this mean for us?

So what does this all mean for each of us here and now? Jesus is the greatest underdog who ever lived. He is the one human being who lived a sinless life. Nailed to a cross to suffer and die, Jesus was the one person who paid the cost to make us and all things right. Dead and buried in a cold, dark tomb, against all odds, Jesus rose from the dead to bring life to the whole world. We love to cheer for an underdog. But are you willing to be an underdog in Jesus? Are you willing to bind your life so closely to his that you die to your old way of living? Are you willing to be so intertwined with Jesus that the odds and the numbers and the rest of the world are totally stacked against you?  That may sound like a terrifying place to be, but it really isn’t. It is the best place to be because you will be with Jesus. And when you have Jesus, you have everything. 

Peace Through Surrender to God

A young man was eager to grow in his Christian faith. So he wrote down on a piece of paper a list of all the things he would give up for God and all the things that he would do for God. Then he took that list and placed it on the altar of his church. To his surprise, after he did that, he felt nothing.

So he went home and wrote a longer list of things he would and wouldn’t do for God and he replaced his first list with the longer one and he expected it would make a big difference. But still he felt nothing. Finally he went to his pastor and told him what he was trying to do. The wise old pastor advised him to take a blank piece of paper, write his name at the bottom and place that on the altar instead of his list of do’s and don’t’s. The young man did that and immediately felt peace.[iv] 

Betting Our Lives on the Humble King Who Comes

Dear friend, Jesus is the Humble King Who Comes. But he didn’t come for your stuff, or your activity, he came for you. Jesus to give you shalom peace, peace in all your relationships, with God, yourself, your neighbors and God’s creation. It’s a peace that begins now in your relationship with Jesus and will reach its fulfillment when Jesus returns to defeat death, banish evil and raise us to life with our old bodies made new to live with him forever in his restored and renewed creation. 

It takes humility to follow Jesus because, from a worldly perspective, it looks like a very foolhardy risk to take: betting your life on an absolute underdog. But we know that Jesus died and rose again for underdogs like us, and because of that, we know that betting our life on Jesus is actually a sure thing. Amen.    


[i] “The Science of Why We Love to Root for Underdogs,” Vox (Internet; available at: https://www.vox.com/2015/3/20/8260445/underdogs-psychology; accessed on November 29, 2022).

[ii] “Leicester City F. C.,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (Internet; available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_City_F.C.; accessed November 29, 2022); “History of Leicester City F. C.,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (Internet; available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Leicester_City_F.C.; accessed on November 29, 2022); and “List of Leicester F.C. seasons,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (Internet; available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Leicester_City_F.C._seasons; accessed on November 29, 2022).

[iii]  “ ‘Diseases of despair’ have soared over past decade in US,” BMJ (Internet; available at: https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/diseases-of-despair-have-soared-over-past-decade-in-us/; accessed on November 29, 2022).

[iv] “Give Yourself to God,” Ministry 127 (Internet; available at: https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/give-yourself-to-god; accessed on November 30, 2022).

(This message was shared at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in Langley BC on December 4, 2022. For more info about WGLC, please go to wglc.org.)

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