Jesse Tree


“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1)

It is Advent—a time to reflect, pray, and worship the Christ who came, who comes, and who will come again. Imagine the world some two thousand years ago in the weeks before the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem. People were busy doing whatever it was that defined their lives at that moment. For some, it was struggling against hunger, fear, and desperation. For others, it was enjoying their wealth and ease. For yet others, it was simply dealing with the pressures of their lives. But for all, the weeks we call “Advent” were just days and nights lived in darkness.

And indeed, it is a dark world. God had created the world to live in union with Him. He had breathed life into the father of our race, Adam, a creature of dust. He had formed Eve from the side of Adam and had joined the two together and to Himself. How bright the world must have been as Eden lived in harmony with the Creator.

But darkness came. Those created and loved by God rebelled against Him, bringing a darkness that permeated all creation. Death had entered through sin, and as the children of Adam filled the world, they took with them the darkness of that dreadful day in Eden when sin and death entered the world.

It was a world of darkness cut off from the source of all light, the Creator. Yet a light was breaking into the world. A young girl carried in her virgin womb a Son. This daughter of Eve was about to give birth to the One who would be the light of the world. This infant would reverse forever the horror of humanity’s fall into sin and death and darkness. This was the miracle of miracles: our human sister Mary became, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the mother of God, the bearer of the Savior of the world.

No human eye could perceive it that night. All that could be seen was a child. Yet this child would forever destroy the darkness, for He brought life into death, and His light was to be the light of the world.

Every force of Satan would seek to put that light out. Herod would attempt to destroy Him by killing every male infant. Scribes and Pharisees would seek to silence Him as He spoke words of life. Failing to silence Him, they would seek to kill Him. Some thirty-three years after the first Christmas, the Babe of Bethlehem would be nailed to a cross. But this is what He had come to do. The Advent story, including the culminating Christmas story, is about a baby who had been born to die—yet not just to die but to be placed in the utter darkness of a tomb and on Easter morning to burst forth from the tomb. When the child of Mary rose from the grave, the light that began at Bethlehem shone so brightly that no one can put it out.

This Advent, we gather in the name of Jesus and consider His great story anew. The Jesse Tree is filled with symbols telling the story of Jesus from creation to His second coming. The story of the Bible, Old and New Testaments alike, is the story of Jesus. He is the Seed of Jesse’s tree. He is the Root of Jesse’s tree. He is the Life of Jesse’s tree. And He is the Firstfruit of Jesse’s tree. As the Church will sing with the angels on Christmas Day, “To God on high be glory and peace to all the earth”.