Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ - Jeremiah 23:5-6, ESV
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. - Zechariah 3:8-9, ESV
The Righteous Branch
Listen to a sermon from John Piper on today's text.
A branch bears fruit and has leaves which make food for the tree. If you want fruit from a tree, you look for it on the branch. If the tree is going to get food, it is made by the leaves on the branches. So, the branches provide life for the tree itself and for the world. Likewise, Jesus feeds His flock, the tree of God, and provides food for the world.
A branch is strong and gives support. We have a big old oak tree in our front yard. On a sturdy branch is a rope swing. My kids love swinging, held up safely by the strength of the branch.
A branch provides shelter, covering people from the heat of the sun and the weather.
Yet this branch is a specific promised Branch. Jeremiah and Zechariah both have a specific Branch in mind. They are picking up on Isaiah's prophecy of a shoot from the stump of Jesse, which we looked at in Day 10. They picture the shoot growing into a strong branch, a new life for God's people.
In Jeremiah, the Branch is a King. He is a King whose reign is marked by righteousness and justice. He will reign in such a way that will bring security and peace to God's people. Further, He will be called "The Lord is our righteousness." Paul speaks of the Righteous Branch in 1 Corinthians 1:30: "Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption."
In Zechariah, the Branch is the High Priest as well as King. God speaks to Joshua the High Priest and tells him that he is a sign pointing to the coming Branch, who will be the high priest at a time when God removes all the iniquity of His people. Thus, the Branch will be the High Priest and the atonement for His people.
It may seem strange to call the Messiah a Branch. Yet we can thank God for such a wonderful, righteous, just, life-giving, sin-atoning, security-providing Branch as Jesus Christ, King of kings and our merciful and faithful High Priest!