"Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." In each Lutheran church, before each sermon, these words are proclaimed. Our pastors preach thereby the good news of Christ to us, unfaithful sinners, each Sunday. What about the hearers of John the Baptist? They got nothing but Law - produce good fruit, or else! Isaiah proclaims this today as well - because Israel was proud of its sin, God would chop it to a stump. Historically, this had already happened several times.
- When the golden calf was made, 3000 died because of it.
- When the spies came out of Canaan, doubt prevented an entire generation from entering the Promised Land.
- Kings of Israel and Judah were repeatedly unfaithful.It left a stump, as Isaiah said. But how could there be a shoot as well? And was that shoot immune from amputation? Isaiah 53:2, 5 says that God cut off Christ Jesus at the Cross - but there the ax was laid down. God gave up His own Son, showing GRACE to us. In MERCY He made Christ our propitiation, freely offering forgiveness. He came to us as a frail shoot to give us strength. We find PEACE where Isaiah says it is: the King's place of rest, His church with its gifts. Sinners kneel adjacent to receive forgiveness; children are baptized into Christ.
Soli Deo gloria.