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  • Baptist Beacon

What’s a Jesse Tree?

FENTON, MI – Jesse Trees are a very old Christmas Tradition and began in medieval times. They were used to help tell the story of the Bible from creation to the Christmas Story. The Jesse tree represents Jesus' family tree. The name is taken from Isaiah 11:1, in which Jesus is referred to as a shoot coming up from the stump of Jesse, the father of David.

  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 making Jesus’ birth a new branch. The ornaments on the Jesse tree tell of Jesus' ancestors, and of the events leading to Jesus' birth.

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. Now, Jesse Trees are used as a kind of Advent Calendar. You can use a normal Christmas tree or a banner in the shape of a tree. Each day through advent (or sometimes just on the four Sundays of advent) a special decoration or ornament (similar to a Chrismon), that tells a story from the Bible, is hung on the tree.

There are very many different stories and symbols you can use. Some of the symbols and stories include:

Bible Story: Creation

Scripture Reference: Genesis 1

Symbol/Ornament: Earth

Bible Story: Adam and Eve

Scripture Reference: Genesis 2:4-3:24

Symbol/Ornament: Apple tree

Bible Story: Noah and the Flood

Scripture Reference: Genesis 6:9-9:17

Symbol/Ornament: Rainbow

Bible Story: God’s Promise to Abraham

Scripture Reference: Genesis 12:1-7 & Genesis 15:1-6

Symbol/Ornament: Tent

Bible Story: Isaac

Scripture Reference: Genesis 22:1-18

Symbol/Ornament: Ram

Bible Story: Jacob’s Ladder

Scripture Reference: Genesis 37 & 50

Symbol/Ornament: Multicolored robe

Bible Story: Moses

Scripture Reference: Exodus 2:1-4:20

Symbol/Ornament: Burning bush

Bible Story: Israelites and Passover

Scripture Reference: Exodus 12:1-42

Symbol/Ornament: Lamb

Bible Story: 10 Commandments

Scripture Reference: Exodus 19:1-20:20

Symbol/Ornament: Stone tablets

Bible Story: Joshua and Jericho

Scripture Reference: Joshua 6:1-20

Symbol/Ornament: Ram’s horn trumpet

Bible Story: Ruth

Scripture Reference: Book of Ruth

Symbol/Ornament: Sheaf of corn

Bible Story: King David

Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 16:1-3

Symbol/Ornament: Star of David

Bible Story: Solomon’s Temple

Scripture Reference: 1 Kings 6

Symbol/Ornament: Temple

Bible Story: Elijah and Baal

Scripture Reference: 1 Kings 18:16-39

Symbol/Ornament: Bonfire

Bible Story: Isaiah’s Jesse Prophecy

Scripture Reference: Isaiah 11:1-11

Symbol/Ornament: Tree stump-single branch

Bible Story: Jonah and the Whale

Scripture Reference: Book of Jonah

Symbol/Ornament: Whale

Bible Story: John the Baptist

Scripture Reference: Matthew 3:13-17

Symbol/Ornament: Scallop shell

Bible Story: Mary

Scripture Reference: Luke 1:26-38

Symbol/Ornament: White lily

Bible Story: Elizabeth

Scripture Reference: Luke 1:39-56

Symbol/Ornament: Mother and child

Bible Story: Zechariah

Scripture Reference: Luke 1:57-80

Symbol/Ornament: Tablet and pencil

Bible Story: Joseph

Scripture Reference: Matthew 1:19-25

Symbol/Ornament: Carpenter’s hammer

Bible Story: Shepherds

Scripture Reference: Luke 2:8-20

Symbol/Ornament: Sheep

Bible Story: Wisemen

Scripture Reference: Matthew 2:1-12

Symbol/Ornament: 3 Gifts / 3 crowns

Bible Story: Jesus

Scripture Reference: Luke 2:1-8

Symbol/Ornament: Baby in manger


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