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What is the Jesse Tree?

Sermon for Families - Christmas 1

Sermon on the Jesse Tree

Where does the term Jesse tree come from ?

The term ‘Jesse Tree’ comes from this verse in the book of Isaiah Chapter 11:


There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

Jesse, was King David’s father and in this verse Christians have seen Isaiah foretell the coming of Jesus. He is telling the people that, one day, a great ruler will rise up from the descendants of the great King David, that ruler Christians believe to be Jesus.

This was exciting news to the people of Isaiah’s time. Many of the kings who ruled after David were poor rulers. They led their people to worship other gods like Molek and offered their children to death as sacrifices, even the wise King Solomon married a foreign princess and worshipped Molek. Eventually David’s kingdom was split into two kingdoms and eventually it faded away and the people were taken away in exile. The prophecy of Isaiah regarding a ‘stump’ shows how the family of David had been 'cut down'. However Jesus would be like a new growth and a new hope for the kingdom that was once strong and worshiped God as one.

With the Jesse tree we celebrate God’s promise to God’s people starting with Adam and Eve, over Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Joseph and Jesus, the Messiah.

Today we have a family service and so the idea is to look at some of these characters in the family tree of Jesus. We last did this 8 years ago and we did it with Powerpoint, showing characters on a picture of a tree. We also did it a very long time ago when we brought a small tree into church and we hung paper figures on the tree. Today we are going to do something different. Around the church there are artefacts which give us a clue to certain characters and we can try and guess who these are and get them in historical order ! Some are quite small and you will need to look carefully, others are so big that you cannot help but notice them, like that huge ladder over there !

We all like family trees because they show us where we come from - this is why Matthew and Luke have family trees concerntrating on different parts of the tree. Even the Apostle Paul mentions the family history of Jesus

"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)

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.

 

Adam and Eve An Apple

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
-Genesis 3:6-7

Noah - Noah's symbol is an ark or a rainbow

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 
-Genesis 6:11-14

The Call of Abram - A Walking Stick

Genesis 12
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. 5 He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan, 6 Abram travelled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.

Jacob - Jacob's symbol is a ladder

And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.
-Genesis 28:12-14

Joseph taken to Egypt
We could have had a coat of many colours,
I have instead a piece of Egyptian papyrus

When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.  This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned.  From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.  So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!

Moses - Two large pieces of slate

The symbol for Moses are the tablets of the law. 

Today I have two pieces of slate and I am going to write in chalk, but you have to imagine that these are two tables in which the words are inscribed

When God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.  Exodus 31:18

David

The symbol for David I have chosen is a sword, because he was a fighter. I could have chosen a harp perhaps ?

So Saul said to his servants, ‘Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.’ One of the young men answered, ‘I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skilful in playing, a man of valour, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.’ So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, ‘Send me your son David who is with the sheep.’  -1 Samuel 16:17-19

Solomon  Son of David  
Solomon was wise and so I have brought along a stuffed owl

3 Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt; he took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. 2 The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the Lord.
3 Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”

Joseph Father of Jesus

Joseph's was a carpenter and so I have brought along a wood plane. He was a builder really so we could have had a hammer or some other tools

Matthew 1:18-21

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

Conclusion

When we look at the lineage of Jesus as shown in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the family trees of Jesus we might be surprised. Here are murderers, prostitutes, people who worshipped other Gods and were guilty of shocking crimes. The remarkable thing is that they were all used by God to bring about the fulfilment of his promises in Jesus. 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. Sometimes with our not so lovely lives we might wonder whether we can ever come close to being useful to God. Yet we should not be surprised that God does choose us and use us and as we seek to follow him more closely the more we can know that we are part of his amazing plan. Moreover there is no better thing that we can do to achieve true purpose in life. It is in doing God’s will that we find peace. 

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