Isaiah 11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
There’s a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things, and the governing factor as to which is which, is the famous maxim -But we’ve always done it this way! But we’ve always done it this way, why take a risk it won’t work. We’ve always done it this way, why monkey with success. We’ve always done it this way, if its not broken don’t fix it.
On the face of it, We’ve always done it this way, is a powerful argument. But ask yourself, what is it that has remained the same? Technology changes, the seasons change, the times change, fashion changes. There are a lot more things that change, than those which remain the same. What remains the same? God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. And by ourselves, we remain the same, sinners - spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God - and as sinners what we can expect from God is his wrath, and eternal damnation. So, when we say we’ve always done it this way before, we are buying the devil’s argument, that sinners we are, and sinners we shall remain, and nothing can change it.
After all, once the tree’s been chopped down, what’s left but to pull the stump? And so that we would know that, we’ve always done it that way before, had no governing power over God. God did a new thing. He left a stump, and it was there, a long time, and there was no doubt that it was dead. 5 years passed and there was no growth. 20 year passed and there was no growth, 50 years passed, and there was no growth, and there was no doubt that the stump was dead, and had no life. 100 years passed, and the stump became a byword for dead and useless things. Several centuries pass, and the stump remains dead to the world. Is there any hope for this stump? That’s the way its always been, people would say, and so it will remain.
And then, when people had accepted that there was no hope, there came a shout out of that dead stump. God was doing a new thing. God did a new thing, so that people would notice. God did a new thing to bring hope to the people. God did a new thing, a shoot from the dead stump, and this new life was the Son of God come into the world, the savior of men.
In the past, prophets have always gone where the people were. God sent prophets to kings, and called them to repent. God sent prophets to cities, and called them to repent. God sent prophets to nations and called them to repent. That’s the way it had always been done before, and sometimes the people listened, and repented. Sometimes they listened, and after a while they forgot, going back to the old sins. The prophets did what God had called them to do, they gave the words God gave them to speak, but the effects didn’t seem to last.
All of a sudden, out in the wilderness, a prophet appears. But that’s not where prophets are supposed to be, its never been that way before. And so the people went out from all the region to, perhaps they were going out to give him advice, to tell him, that’s not the way its done, here’s how to do it right. But before they could speak and tell him all about the way they’ve always done it, the Word of God came to them calling to repentance, and telling them about a new thing that God is doing. God is bringing salvation, and it will no longer be, each man telling his neighbor, and each his brother, saying repent, know God. But God is sending a savior, who will free us from the endless cycle of sin. God is sending a savior, who will redeem us from the power of the devil. God is sending a savior, and He will make us a new creation.
That’s the one good thing about doing something new, it gets people’s attention. But that by itself is not enough. And so God works to get out attention, and then as we hear, the Word begins to work it change upon us, turning us from sin, and turning us to God. And if we are a new creation, then the former things have passed away, including the famous, we’ve always done it that way before. So God calls us from the old ways, which were the ways of sin, suffering, death, and despair; and calls us to the new life that is ours in Christ.
God is doing a new thing, and we are now called upon to live the new life that is ours in Christ, to the praise and glory of God, for Jesus sake.