Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming!

Listening to 24-hours of Christmas music on the radio this month has probably made you realize one thing: the classic Christmas hymns have much more depth than “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (no offense, Mariah).

Did you realize, however, that most, if not all, of these classic carols were not written simply to be sung during the Christmas season. They were written so that congregations would know true doctrine and feel the joy that comes with it.

One of my favorite “Christmas” hymns is not a radio hit. The song is ”Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.” This hymn, like many others, was designed to instruct on the doctrinal theme of the “righteous Branch” spoken of by the Prophets (see Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:1-7; 33:14-16). God promised David that his offspring would rule the world forever (2 Sam. 7). The Prophets pick up on this theme and teach that from David’s family tree would come a Branch that would rule the world in righteousness and justice. That Branch, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth who would save his people from their sins and reign over them forever.

The original English translation of this hymn sticks closest to the writing of the prophets. Read it. Learn from it. Sing it. Enjoy it. Enjoy Jesus in it. How? Let this song point you to the truth of the gospel: just as the prophets foretold, a righteous Branch has sprouted, a bright flower, from a rotten tree of sinners. If you trust him, rest assured that he will save you from death and lighten every load!

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!


Jesus: The Greater Moses

The most beautiful thing to me about reading the Old Testament is seeing Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment God’s covenant with his people Israel.  This morning as I read Numbers 11, this couldn’t have been more clear.

The people of Israel are complaining that they do not have any meat to eat. They want to go back to Egypt again. It’s so bad, they are weeping. So Moses turns to the LORD and says,

“Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,’ to the land that you swore to give their fathers?”

Moses, in his own way, complains to God that he is prophet over these people. Moses thinks he is a victim. But Jesus, the Greater Moses, joyfully welcomed this “burden” of loving God’s people.

In Luke 13:34, Jesus cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”  And in Matthew 11:28-29, he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus says, “I will carry you like a nurse carries a nursing child. I will love you, even when you are unlovable. I will care for you. I will have compassion on you. I will give you mercy.”  He has done perfectly what Moses could not do — and at times did not want to do. O what a Savior he is!