notre dame montreal

The Jesse Tree

Family Service Talk by
Revd Charles Royden
2nd December 2001

Tree under a star with quotation from Rev 22:16

I wonder if you have ever heard 
of the Jesse Tree?

Now I wonder, of the people who has their hand up at the moment, how many of you would be able to tell us what a Jesse tree actually is!

The term is taken from a passage in Isaiah Chapter 11:1 and then found repeated through scripture.

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:" King James Version

"And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10 KJV)

"There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust." (Romans 15:12 KJZ)

I suppose that many of us are familiar with family trees, which show us where our families have come from. My father and his mother and father and their parents and so on. Well the Jesse tree is just speaking about the genealogy of Jesus, or the family tree.

Who was Jesse? Well he was the father of King David, and the gospel writers were very eager to show that Jesus was brought up in a family where his father was descended from this royal line

The New Testament starts in Matthew with this family tree, history of the family of Jesus

Matthew 1:1

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: 
Abraham was the father of Isaac, 
Isaac the father of Jacob, 
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 
Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, 
Perez the father of Hezron, 
Hezron the father of Ram, 
Ram the father of Amminadab, 
Amminadab the father of Nahshon, 
Nahshon the father of Salmon, 
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, 
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, 
Obed the father of Jesse, 
and Jesse the father of King David. 

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife, 
Solomon the father of Rehoboam, 
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, 
Abijah the father of Asa, 
Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, 
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, 
Jehoram the father of Uzziah, 
Uzziah the father of Jotham, 
Jotham the father of Ahaz, 
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 
Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, 
Manasseh the father of Amon, 
Amon the father of Josiah, 
and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. 

After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, 
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, 
Abiud the father of Eliakim, 
Eliakim the father of Azor, 
Azor the father of Zadok, 
Zadok the father of Akim, 
Akim the father of Eliud, 
Eliud the father of Eleazar, 
Eleazar the father of Matthan, 
Matthan the father of Jacob, 
and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

Christians have used trees and then hung symbols of this history, told in the Bible, leading up to the birth of Jesus. This has enabled Christians to tell the story of God in the Old Testament, it is useful to remind ourselves that Christian history is fundamentally Jewish. The history of the Israel is the history of our faith and Jesus is the promised Messiah. Jesus is the one foretold in the scriptures and his birth is the fulfilment of God’s promises to his people.

It is true that the early church soon realised that to be a follower of Jesus, one no longer had to become Jewish. Circumcision and dietary laws were just some of the issues which were struggled with in the New Testament. Nevertheless it is important for us to remember our history, the history of God dealing with his people.

In this way we can see the continuity of God's love, patience, and grace across the centuries to the most unlikely people in the midst of their failures and difficulties

Today we are going to look at some of the important characters of the Bible and we will hang a symbol for them on the tree.

Tree with symbols for ten biblical people.

The story told of the Jesse tree should serve to remind us of our Christian family history. It should also serve to remind us that Jesus is a real person, not an imaginary figure. He stands in the history of time, from which we date even our calendar. Jesus is real and as Christians we believe that he is real today and able to meet with us this Advent time

Bible Notes and Intercessions for 2nd December 2001