A Jesse Tree is either a real tree or a representation of one, decorated with symbols which mark the journey from the creation of the world to the birth of Christ. The symbols represent the ancestral characters depicted in the Jewish scriptures and the gospels.
The ‘tree’ is a common symbol throughout scripture, most memorably featured in the fall of Adam and Eve. Jesus used images of trees, vines and branches to explain the power and life of God. Jesse was the father of King David.
Thus, in its most original form the Jesse tree illustrates Jesus’ human royal lineage, from King David down to Mary. It shows the fulfillment of God’s promise of a miracle to the childless Abraham and Sarah, that although both of them were nearing 100 years old, “kings of peoples shall come from her”. (Genesis 17: 16, NRSV).
A Jesse tree is especially useful for helping children to enter into the spirit of Advent, a spirit of expectant, joyful longing for the God who loves and saves us. It is an engaging way to impart knowledge of our salvation history and the momentous place of Jesus’ birth within it.
Thus while the Jesse Tree is about the journey of the people of God, it also sheds light on our own life journey. It connects us more deeply to scripture, through which Christ never fails to reveal himself to us here and now.
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
Isaiah 11:1-4 (NIV)
A branch is a sign of new life and new beginnings. Jesus was a descendent of King David and Christians believe that Jesus is this new branch.
The first Jesse trees were large carvings, tapestries or even stained glass windows put in Churches that helped illiterate people to learn about the Bible from creation to the Christmas Story.
Directions to make a Jesse Tree https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=545
Suggested symbols for tree ornaments:
|Bible Story:||Where it is in the Bible:||Symbol:|
|Creation||Genesis 1||The earth|
|Adam and Eve /
Garden of Eden
|Genesis 2:4 - 3:24||A tree with fruit or an apple|
|Noah & the Flood||Genesis 6:9 - 9:17||A rainbow|
|Genesis 12:1-7 & 15:1-6||A tent|
|Isaac||Genesis 22:1-18||A ram|
|Jacob's Ladder||Genesis 28:10-19||A ladder|
|Joseph's Coat||Genesis 37 & 50||A multicolored coat or robe|
|Moses||Exodus 2:1 - 4:20||A burning bush|
|Exodus 12:1-42||A lamb|
|The 10 Commandments||Exodus 19:1 - 20:20||Two stone tablets|
|Joshua and the
fall of Jericho
|Joshua 6:1-20||A ram's horn trumpet|
|Ruth||Ruth (Whole Book)||A sheaf of corn|
|King David||1 Samuel 16:1-3||A six pointed 'Star of David'|
|Solomon's Temple||1 Kings 6||The temple|
|1 Kings 18:16-39||A bonfire|
|Isaiah 11:1-11||A tree stump with a single branch
growing from it
|Jonah and the Whale||Jonah (Whole Book)||A whale|
|John the Baptist||Matthew 3:13-17||A scallop shell|
|Mary||Luke 1:26-38||A white lily|
|Elizabeth||Luke 1:39-56||A mother and child|
|Zechariah||Luke 1:57-80||A pencil and tablet|
|Joseph||Matthew 1:19-25||A carpenter's hammer|
|The Shepherds||Luke 2:8-20||A fluffy sheep!|
|The Wisemen||Matthew 2:1-12||A gold star or the
three gifts or three crowns
|Jesus||Luke 2:1-8||A baby in a manger|