By Mark Robinson
In considering the person of the Messiah, His work and character are illustrated for us in the names given to Him throughout the Scriptures. The different names of the Messiah paint a beautiful portrait of the promised One of Israel.
One of these names is Branch. One dictionary definition of branch reads: “a line of family descent stemming from a particular ancestor, as distinguished from some other line or lines from the same stock; a division of a family.”
Messiah as the Branch is found in 6 passages in the Jewish Bible. Each of these passages presents a facet of Messiah – His beauty and glory, lineage, righteousness, servanthood, and His humanity.
Beautiful and Glorious
“In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.” Isaiah 4:2
“In that day” refers to the future kingdom of the Messiah. In the time of the kingdom Jewish people will recognize that Jesus is the Messiah and He will be seen as beautiful and glorious. Until this time the unfortunate response of most Jewish people is as Isaiah foretold, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” Isaiah 53:3
Preceding the coming of the Messiah is a time of Tribulation, seven years in length, unequaled in the history of the Jewish people. Zechariah tells us that two thirds of the Jewish people perish during this time, Zechariah 13:9. Those remaining recognize Jesus as Messiah and “look upon him whom they have pierced,” Zechariah 12:10.
Israel will finally recognize her beautiful and glorious Messiah. He is the One who died and rose again for their sins that they may have the glories of heaven and a personal relationship with God. How beautiful that is!
Family of David
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1
King Saul’s disobedience to God led to his losing the kingdom rule that he never should have had in the first place. In 1 Samuel 16 God tells Samuel to stop mourning for Saul and go see Jesse the Bethlehemite, “for I have provided for me a king among his sons.” Jesse would bring seven of his sons before Samuel, but each of them was rejected by God. In answer to Samuel’s question, “Are here all thy children?” Jesse answered that there was only the youngest son left and he was taking care of the sheep. David, the youngest son of Jesse, may not have looked like kingly material to Jesse, but he was God’s choice.
Messiah son of David has become one of the best known phrases referring to the promised redeemer of Israel. Numerous scriptures such as Isaiah 9:7, Psalm 89, and Jeremiah 23, among others, speak of David as the progenitor of the Messianic king. The very first verse of the New Testament says, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham,” Matthew 1:1.
One of the basic requirements for anyone claiming to be Israel’s Messiah is the proper lineage. A Branch coming from the root of Jesse and, ultimately, from the family of David is one of the dividing lines between those claiming Messianic rights and the One who has the Messianic right. With the authoritative records of Jewish lineage destroyed with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. there is no one able to prove descent from Jesse and David. This leaves us with the reality that only someone living before 70 A.D. can conclusively prove he is from the family of David. There is a reason the New Testament starts with “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Jesus meets the biblical requirement of being the branch from Jesse!
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” Jeremiah 23:5
“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” Jeremiah 33:15
These two passages from Jeremiah communicate the exact same truth about Messiah the Branch. He will be righteous.
The desperate plight of mankind is the need for righteousness to stand before a holy God. When sin entered into the world through the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden all mankind would be tainted because of his rebellion. Tainted may be too kind of a word, because in reality we are infected throughout our entire being because of sin. Isaiah’s comment on the condition of Israel in his day is actually very appropriate for all of us. “Ah sinful… people laden with iniquity… the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment,” Isaiah 1:4,6.
It was through the family of David that the Messiah/Redeemer of Israel would come. From the beginnings of Genesis to the end of the Jewish Bible God had promised that the Messiah would be Israel’s and the world’s redeemer. There is a basic requirement though for the Redeemer to accomplish God’s desire. He must be perfect, righteous, without sin. This is why Isaiah said of the Messiah, “he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.” Outwardly (done no violence) and inwardly (no deceit in his mouth) he was perfect. He perfectly met the standard of a holy God. He was the perfect offering that God required. Jesus, God’s Messiah and Redeemer, we are told “…hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God,” 1 Peter 3:18. It is through His righteousness that we are made righteous when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior who died and rose again for our sins. At that time His righteousness is imputed to us. God sees not us and our sin, but the perfect righteous of Messiah given to us.
“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.” Zechariah 3:8
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, especially to the Western mind, the blessings of God come to those who are servants. God is not looking for great leaders, people of renown and intellect, or physically blessed athletes to advance His kingdom and cause. God is looking for servants.
From Moses, great in many areas of life, but of whom God said is “my servant,” to the Apostle Paul who was a “bond servant” of the Messiah, the greatest advances of God’s work has been through those who had a servant’s heart and mentality.
The book of Isaiah, par excellence of Messianic insight and revelation, uses the term Servant repeatedly in the four passages, 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; and 52:13 – 53:12, that develop the person and the work of the Messiah better than any other passage or passages in the Jewish Bible.
When Zechariah refers to the Branch as God’s servant he was echoing a common theme of the Bible, that is, the Messiah, although the King of kings, did his most wonderful work as the servant of Jehovah. He was perfect in His obedience and carried out the Father’s will even to His death on the cross for all of mankind.
No wonder the pronouncement is made, “Behold…my servant!” He is unparalleled among men, but He is more than man. He is the Lord of glory who became one of us. He is the Messiah of Israel, the Redeemer of the world, the Judge of the universe. He is the One to whom all, both Jew and Gentile, need to turn for forgiveness of sin.
For those of us who have recognized and received Him as our Messiah and Savior, He is the One we are to focus on. We are to model our life after His.
He was a servant. If we want to honor and please God, we need to be servants!
Behold the Man
“And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.” Zechariah 6:13
Jesus had been denied the basic rights of an honest and fair trial. The Roman governor, Pilate, wanted to wash his hands of the entire affair with this man Jesus, the proclaimed Messiah of the Jews. In exasperation he proclaimed to the gathered leaders of Israel.
“… Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him” John 19:4-6
Twice Pilate made a statement that separates Jesus as man from all others who have ever lived. When Pilate stated “I find no fault in him” he was unknowingly commenting on the uniqueness of Jesus.
Pilate’s challenge to these Jewish leaders resonates throughout the corridors of history. The cry “Behold the man!” was a statement of fact, but it is also a challenge to all who follow through the ages.
The Hebrew Scriptures speak of a unique individual who would come into the world. Of the many Messianic names, the Branch challenges each of us to make a decision. Messiah would be from the family of David, perfectly righteous in his life, unparalleled in glory and beauty, who willingly died, as God’s servant, for the sins of the world. Will you behold and embrace Him as your Messiah?