Jesse Tree

When we lived in Florida, we participated in an awesome Sunday School class led by Gay Robinson. One Christmas season, she gave us all a handout with information about Jesse Trees. A Jesse Tree is a simple tree (often just a bare branch anchored in a pot of sand; but it can also be a fabric “tree”, or a real or artificial Christmas tree) that is decorated with one ornament each day during Advent. The ornaments represent characters and themes from the Scriptures.

The thing I love about the Jesse Tree is that it’s not just a “chocolate-a-day” Advent countdown. It’s a way to focus on the great truth of the Bible: that God loves us and that He sent His son to save us. The story of Christmas doesn’t occur out of the blue, you know. It’s not like one day God suddenly thought, “Hey, that Mary chick looks cool. I’ll send an angel her way and see what happens!” No. He had a plan all along, from before the world began, from the moment that He breathed life into Adam. The Jesse Tree makes it clear and poignant that the entire story of Scripture points toward Christ and the salvation we can only receive through him.

From the research I’ve been doing, it appears that Jesse Trees can either emphasize the lineage of Messiah from Adam to Christ; or they can emphasize Old Testament themes, events, or covenants; or they can trace Old Testament prophecies about the First Coming of the Messiah.

This list is slightly modified from the one that Gay handed out. I wanted to primarily trace the members of Christ’s lineage who are mentioned in Matthew 1 (#1-14, 20-23); to fill out the list and have one ornament for each day of Advent I added the Old Testament prophets (#15-19).


Ornament Character/Meaning Scripture
Jesse Tree Isaiah 11:1
1 Earth God/Creation Gen. 1:1-31
2 Apple/Snake Adam & Eve/Fall of Man Gen. 3:1-24
3 Ark/rainbow Noah/Flood Gen. 6:11-22
4 Tent/camel Abraham/Covenant Gen. 12:1-7
5 Ram Isaac/Offering Gen. 22:1-14
6 Ladder Jacob/Promise Gen. 27:41-28:22
7 Coat of many colors Joseph/God’s Providence Gen. 37:1-36
8 Stone tablets Moses/God’s Law Ex. 20:1-17
9 Trumpet Joshua/God’s Leadership Joshua 1:1-11
10 Wall with Red Cord Rahab/God’s Protection Joshua 2:1-21
11 Wheat Ruth & Boaz/God’s Plan Ruth 1-4
12 Crimson Robe with Staff Jesse 1 Sam 16:1-13
13 Harp/Slingshot David/Shepherd for the People 1 Sam. 16:14-23
14 Crown Solomon/Wisdom 1 Kings 3:3-28
15 Stone Altar Elijah/Threat of false gods 1 Kings 17:1-16
16 Hot Coals Isaiah/Call to Holiness Isaiah 6:1-8
17 Watchtower Habbakuk/Waiting on the Lord Hab. 1:1-4
18 Tears Jeremiah/Exile Jeremiah 31:31-34
19 Temple Haggai/Return & Rebuild Haggai 2:1-9
20 People Zechariah & Elizabeth/Joy Luke 1:5-25
21 Scallop John the Baptist/Call to Repentance Luke 1:57-80
22 White Lily (or rose) Mary/Hope for the Future Luke 1:26-38
23 Carpenter’s Tools Joseph/Trust in God Matt. 1:18-25
24 Angels Angels/Good News Hebrews 1:1-14
25 Star of David (or Chi-Rho) Jesus/Fulfillment of Messianic Promise Luke 2:1-20

Now that I’ve chosen the Scriptures, characters, and stories I want to include, I’m making my own ornaments. A handful are wooden shapes, painted with acrylics; the rest are felt and embroidery details. I’m not quite finished (but hey, it’s only January!) Here’s what I’ve done so far:
For more information and additional character/ornament ideas, as well as more about the history and tradition of Jesse Trees, check these resources:
Jesse Tree: Messianic Prophecies
Christian Resource
King of Peace

And if you want to buy a complete set of Jesse Tree ornaments, or a set of patterns to cross-stitch your own ornaments, take a look at Jesse-Trees.Com

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I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!






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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

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