The Jesse Tree and the Book of Isaiah

“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” Isaiah 11:1-3

First of all, Happy 4th Day of Christmas. Yes folks remember we have 12 days of Christmas. It’s not just a nice little jingle with great historical significance. So the four calling birds would be the focus of today which of course would be the four gospels. The coming of the new king you can especially see in Matthew and Luke. In any event, we are blessed with several Christmas traditions. One of those traditions would be a the ‘Jesse tree’ which stems back to medieval times. Ironically, just as the song 12 Days of Christmas is a journey song for children so that they may journey through their faith. It is also so with the Jesse tree as a physical and pictorial symbol so others can learn of the journey to the coming of Our Lord.

If we keep reading Isaiah 11, you’ll notice some other symbols which contribute to this Jesse tree, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The suckling child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious” Isaiah 11:6-10.

This description points to a Nativity scene of sorts. As you have animals of all sorts coming together who in a normal dynamic would never have come together, they come together here representing different nations coming together under the king of kings. At the beginning of this passage, you’ll notice “a shoot from the stump of Jesse”. Jesse was the father of King David. King David of course was the ancestor of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, on this tree you’ll commonly have some type of symbol for King David. When you think of the “shoot” or “stump” it reminds you of Jesus coming about as a new branch, which makes towns like Nazareth a great seed bed for Jesus to make himself known considering that Nazareth means “branch town”. Another picture or symbol you might see is a “white lily” representing the Blessed Mother and you can take a scriptural passage from Luke 1. You might even see a creation symbol being represented by a picture of the earth with a scripture from Genesis. Salvation history gets displayed before you so one does not forget the beginnings and witnesses the great manifestation to Our Beloved Lord. I think it would almost be appropriate to have a Jesse tree next to a Nativity scene in your living room. Of course you decide. Dominus vobiscum.

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