November 9, 2020

The Lord and His Boyhood
Isaiah 53:2
There never was a boy like Jesus. Isaiah tells us two things about the boyhood of our Lord. First, He tells us how holy He was, says, “He shall grow up before him as a tender plant”—that has to do with His nature. “And as a root out of a dry ground” has to do with his nurture. Both set Him apart from all other boys.
A tender plant! Over the years, I have preached at Park of the Palms, a retirement center in Florida. At one time, the grounds were kept beautiful by a retired professional gardener. Only once did I hear him address an audience. this is what he said: On a stormy night in winter, I like to pull up my chair to the fire and set out my seed catalogues and plan my garden for the coming year. All plants featured in a seed catalog are described in one of three ways. They are either hardy, half-hardy, or tender, There are some very real differences, I can assure you, between these various categories.
A hardy plant is one native to the area. It will take ready root because it feels at home. The soil, the climate, the weather are all congenial. A half-hardy plant is one that is not a native to the area but it comes from a similar environment. The conditions are much the same, so it quickly settles in as a native. But a tender plant—well, that’s a different story. It is an exotic plant. It comes from far away. It does not find the soil or the climate congenial. It will need special attention. It will have to be protected from the weather. It will have to be fed special nutrients. It is a tender plant.
Our Lord Jesus was in this sin-cursed world as a tender plant. He came from far away. His nature was not like our nature. This world’s sin-ridden social, secular, and spiritual climate was foreign to Him. He was holy and harmless and undefiled and separate from sinners. He was a transplant from glory. He came out of eternity into time. As a man He was absolutely innocent; as God, He was absolutely holy. He was holy even as a boy. He was good, as God is good. He had no sin nature. “Satan cometh.” He said, toward the end of His life. “Satan cometh and hath nothing in me.” He was a tender plant from smother land, a land beyond the sky. He was a transplant from Glory. This sin-cursed world of ours was not His real home.
The prophet goes on to describe His nurture, by the time Jesus came to earth, the major pagan world religions had long since been founded and given a chance to show ‘what mere religion can do. The Lord found nothing in them. The great philosophers of Greece had come and gone and been given their chance to deal with the human condition. The Lord found nothing to nurture Him in them. Judaism had abandoned the Torah for the budding Talmud—the Mishnah and the Midrash had already taken deep root. There was nothing to nurture Him there.  Just the opinions and traditions of men. So he drove His roots deep into the Word of God. He was a root, indeed, out of a dry ground. He became the blessed man of Psalm 1 the tree planted by the rivers of water by the Spirit of God Himself. Isaiah tells us, moreover, a human He was. He was God incarnate, burning with holiness but all His essential, innate story was so veiled by His humanity that the prophet could add: hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that ‘we should desire him.” All people saw was “the carpenters son.” They saw a man in a homespun robe, speaking the local dialect and they dismissed Him as a Galilean peasant. They saw no beauty in Him at all. Indeed, the people of His native village tried to kill  for telling them the truth, but God’s eye was on Him. The ange!s were watching over Him. He was God’s “tender plant,” a transplant from world, cultivated and protected by God while living in a hostile world.

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