Celebrating the Promise and Coming of the Savior With the Jesse Tree
Having family traditions that center around the Christmas holiday has always been very important to us. Traditions bring the family closer together, create great memories, and help us to keep our focus on the spiritual significance of the holiday season. One of the traditions we enjoy is the Jesse Tree.
The Meaning of the Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree is a visual picture of the promise of the Savior throughout Scripture, ultimately leading to the promise fulfilled in the birth of Christ. The Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11:1-"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."
Beginning with Creation and following the thread of history through the Israelites and the line of people who would ultimately lead to Christ, the ornaments of the Jesse Tree show God's plan for redemption from the start. For each day, from the first day of Advent through Christmas, there is an ornament that symbolizes part of the redemption story. As we put on each ornament, we read a Scripture that explains that ornament, and we talk about what it means.
Many Advent traditions only focus on the birth of Christ. That's an important event for sure. But the Jesse Tree goes further and reminds us of the big picture. The birth of Christ wasn't just a random, isolated event. God had a plan for His people all along, and that plan, begun at the Creation of the world, continued on through history, culminating in Christ's birth.
Creating Your Own Jesse Tree
To make your own Jesse tree, you can use a real, small Christmas tree or you can draw a tree to place your ornaments on. We've done both through the years, but I finally decided on a tree drawing because I can keep it from year to year and pull it out for the first day of Advent. It's also a good choice for us because we don't have the space to put up an additional Christmas tree. I laminated my printed ornaments and put velcro tabs on the back. The tree has velcro tab spots where the ornaments can be placed.
The tree that you use can have bare branches because the theme verse in Isaiah talks about Christ as the Branch that bears fruit. I like to have the Isaiah verse written out with the tree because this reminds us of the focus of the Jesse Tree.
You will need a set of ornaments to use each day on your Jesse tree. You can print these or draw the ornaments yourself. I'll give some resource links below that I've used to print already made ornaments, There are twenty-eight symbolic ornaments and the symbolism of the tree which you explain on the first day of Advent.
- Tree with fruit
- Sack of grain
- Burning bush
- Torah tablets
- Ram's horn trumpet
- Clay water pitcher
- Shepherd's crook
- Stone altar
- Empty tent
- Fire tongs
- City wall
- Scallop shell
- White lily
- Mother and child
- Tablet and pencil
- Carpenter's hammer
- Chi-Roh symbol (Greek letters for Christ)
We use our Jesse tree for family devotions throughout the month of December. Each day we'll read the passage of Scripture, and then the kids take turns placing an ornament on the tree.
Jesse Tree Resources
This site has a great free printable pack that has all of the Scripture references, a devotional explanation of each day, and printable ornaments.
If you use an Advent wreath in your family, this site ties in the Jesse tree readings with the weeks of Advent, so you could see how the days fall along with using the Advent wreath.
This site has a little different version of printable ornaments if you would like a little different style.
The Jesse tree can be a great way to focus on Christ and the promise of a Savior as well as the fulfillment of that promise. It's also a great way to give kids a big picture view of God's plan of redemption throughout the Bible. It's a tradition we've come to look forward to year after year.
Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. Her days are filled with being a mom, homemaker, and teacher. In her (very rare) free time, she enjoys blogging, reading, and reviewing books and curricula. These days she’s learning the joys of being a mom of teens. You can read about her family and homeschooling life at As We Walk Along the Road.
Love the way Leah used velcro tabs to keep everything in its place! This is a great project to do with kids of all ages. THANK YOU, Leah, for such a wonderful addition to our Christmas celebration!