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Jesse Tree Sermon preached by The Reverend Charles Royden on Advent 1

The Jesse Tree

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On the first Sunday in Advent we use liturgy when we light our first Advent candle which reminds us of the patriachs. We think of

Abraham and all of those fathers of our faith who went before. So this is an excelelnt occasion to use the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is just a look at the family tree of Jesus to see all of the characters who lived before Jesus and who were his relatives. Family trees are very popular and it is just as interesting to look at the family tree of Jesus.

We could use matthew or Luke, or a mixture of both. I am just going to stick with Matthew. I am using a powerpoint presentation to put symbols representing the charcters on a tree. This could be done with a real tree and cardboard cutouts, which could be given to children as they came in to make a great family / all age sermon.

Any characters aan be chosen - the congregation trying to guess who is represented.

The symbols depicted on the Jesse Tree are:

For Adam & Eve - an apple
For Abraham - a walking stick
From Noah - the ark
For Jacob - symbols of Egypt
For Jacob - a ladder
For Moses - the two stones of the ten commandments
For Jonah  - a whale
For Ruth - ears of wheat
For David - a harp
For Solomon - a crown.

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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