The Jesse Tree: Theology Through Art
Fr. Scott A. Haynes
Throughout Advent, as we are preparing for the coming of our Messiah, we have heard references to Christ's Davidic ancestry in the readings at Holy Mass and Divine Office. In the artistic patrimony of the Church the tradition has developed of depicting the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ – it is called the “Jesse Tree.” This Jesse tree is a visual representation of Christ’s genealogy that dates back to Jesse, the father of King David.
God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever - and that through him and his seed God would save his people and bless the world. This genealogy of Christ is spoken of two centuries after the death of King David, when God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said:
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked” (Is. 11:1-4).