If you teach children or are a parent of young children, here’s an idea to emphasize the gospel message to your kids throughout the holiday season. This year, make a Jesse tree.
This is a super idea that can help your kids connect Old Testament stories with the birth of Christ.
A Jesse Tree is a small Christmas tree that holds ornaments symbolizing Old Testament stories, particularly those stories, characters or prophecies that speak of the coming Messiah. Unlike our modern Christmas trees with their lights, garland and ornaments that rarely have anything to do with the Christ Child, a Jesse tree contains Christian symbols that all point to the coming Savior. Basically, a Jesse Tree is a family tree about Jesus.
This is a great project for a Sunday School class, a Christian private school classroom, a homeschooling family or an activity for your family to create together if you want a different twist on the celebration of Advent. Consider suggesting this idea to your Messianic Jewish friends or use it as a gospel tool for your Jewish friends.
The Jesse tree is not my idea. Nor is it a modern idea. It actually dates back to the 13th century. It is also based on the 11th chapter of Isaiah, remembering the chapter that talks about the branch springing forth from the root of Jesse? Look it up!
Use your creativity to create the symbols. They can be pictures of bible story symbols downloaded from the Internet. Or you can make your own symbols out of paper or other material. Some ideas of stories and their corresponding symbols are:
Adam and Eve: Apple
Baby Jesus: Manger scene
Jesus: cross or a chi-rho symbol
Here are some websites where you can find more information about Jesse Trees:
I was one of those teenagers that questioned everything. One day, I asked my preacher, “If our Christmas celebrations come from so many pagan traditions, why do we celebrate it?” I have quoted his answer over and over again, “Use every available opportunity to proclaim Christ as Lord.” As Christmas becomes more commercialized, we have to work harder to find ways to proclaim the life giving message we have to share. But it’s worth it. After all, Christmas is the greatest event of human history – when the divine Son of God chose to take on human flesh in order to bring mankind back to the Father. Using a Jesse Tree in your classroom or home gives you one more opportunity to proclaim Jesus as Lord.