A Mormon Jesse Tree: Witnesses and Types of Christ

12.11.09 | Being Mormon, church | 12 Comments

I first heard of a Jesse Tree on Rocks in My Dryer last year, and I immediately wanted to create a Mormon version. I like that traditional Jesse Trees emphasize Old Testament prophecies of Jesus Christ; I want my kids to be as familiar with Bible stories as they are with the Book of Mormon and church history stories that we often focus on.

We’re not as consistent about reading scriptures as my family was when I was a kid. I tend to blame this on Dick because he is not a morning person, but since I’m not a morning person either, we’re kind of even. Last year I hoped that creating a Jesse Tree with special Christ-themed devotional readings would jump-start our daily scripture habit. It didn’t work. We enjoyed the stories and I used it for a sharing time in Primary, but by the second week in January we were back to our slothful ways.

But I’m optimistic, and I’m sure again this year that our Jesse Tree will be only the beginning of glorious yearlong testimony-building, although my memory is so fabulous that I spent several days getting the kids excited about starting our Joshua Tree.


The Jesse Tree is named for King David’s father Jesse, and the scripture in Isaiah that talks about the stem of Jesse, Jesus Christ.

For each devotional, we have an ornament for the tree, a picture from the Gospel Art Kit (GAK), and a few specific scriptures. With the kids so young, we tell each story in simple terms (referring to the GAK summaries if necessary). As the kids get older, we’ll read more and more directly from the scriptures. We could also read the stories from the children’s scripture books, but I like the storytelling give-and-take for keeping the kids’ attention. I have been pleasantly surprised by how excited the kids are about “doing our Jesse tree” each night. Sally drags a bar stool into the living room and sets the tree on top of it in the middle of the rug. Susan asks if we can “do Family Home Evening,” but I tell her it’s not Monday anymore so we’ll just be doing one story.

As time goes by, I might search for better pictures and ornaments for some of the devotionals, but the GAK is convenient, and the ornaments I’ve gathered (mostly wood cutouts from Hobby Lobby and odd craft materials) do the job. The stories might seem impossibly broad, but the focus is always on the witnesses and types of Christ in the story. I’ve listed them in rough chronological order, but, again to involve the kids, we’re letting them take turns picking an ornament, so we’re not worried about the order.

A Mormon Jesse Tree: Witnesses and Types of Christ

1) The Jesse Tree/Witnesses of Christ (book) GAK 326 (Isaiah 11:1-2, Jacob 4:4, 2 Nephi 25:26) All the prophets have known of Christ and had “a hope of him.”

2) Creation/The Council in Heaven (world) GAK 600, 100, 201 (Alma 30: 44, Moses 4:1-2) God created the world for us and promised that He would send a Savior for us.

3) Noah (rainbow) GAK 103 (Genesis 9:13, 15) God promised he would never again flood the world, and because He kept that promise, people knew to believe His promise about a Savior.

4) Abraham & Isaac (bundle of cinnamon sticks) GAK 105 (Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:8, 11-12) Isaac as a type of Christ, Abraham as a loving father willing to sacrifice his much-loved son.

5) Moses (snake) GAK 123 (John 3:14-15, Helaman 8:14-15) This is one of my favorite symbols — If we would but look to Christ, we will live.

6) Ruth (wheat) GAK 124 (Ruth 1:16, Ruth 4:13-17) Ruth followed her mother-in-law because she was converted to the gospel. She was virtuous and became an ancestress of Jesus.

7) Esther (scepter) GAK 125 (Esther 4:14, Esther 7:3) Esther acted as an intercessor for her people, just as Christ is our intercessor.

8) Isaiah (lamb) GAK 113 (Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 53) Listen to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

9) Jonah (whale) still looking (Jonah 1:12-15, Luke 11:29-32) Jonah is in the great fish for three days, much like Christ is in the tomb for three days.

10) The Brother of Jared (stone) GAK 318 (Ether 3:8-15) Because of his faith, Ether saw that Christ would have a body like his, and learned that Jesus was “prepared before the foundation of the world.”

11) Lehi & Nephi (liahona) GAK 302 (1 Ne 16:28, Alma 37:45) Another great image — liahona as words of Christ.

12) Enos (bow & arrow) GAK 305 (Enos 1:8, 26) Enos bore a powerful witness even without seeing or hearing Jesus.

13) King Benjamin (tower) GAK 307 (Mosiah 3:2, 7-8, Mosiah 5:1-2) The people covenant to obey, take upon themselves the name of Christ, and experience a “mighty change.”

14) Alma the Younger (chains) GAK321 (Alma 7:10-13) Christ will loose the bands of death.

15) Samuel the Lamanite (wall) GAK314 (Helaman 14:1-8) Sing Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus.

16) Nephi (star) GAK 200 (3 Nephi 1:8-14) My favorite advent story, and where we always begin our reading on Christmas Eve.

17) John the Baptist (sandal) GAK (Matthew 3:2-3, 11-17) John prepared the way, baptized Jesus, and restored the Aaronic priesthood.

18) Mary (heart) GAK 241 (Luke 1:28-33, 38) Mary was pure and loving. (Also, probably patient, kind, and willing to play Sorry all day long).

19) Joseph (hammer) GAK 206 (Matthew 1:18-25) Sing When Joseph Went to Bethlehem.

20) The Shepherds and the Wise Men (gift) GAK 202, 203 (Luke 2:15-16, Matthew 2:9-11) The Shepherds and the Wise Men went to find Jesus as quickly as they could, and worshiped Him. I point out to the kids that we might have been among the heavenly chorus singing of His birth.

21) The Atonement and Resurrection (cross) GAK 227 (Luke 22:41-44, John 11:25) Without the Atonement and Resurrection, Christmas would be meaningless.

22) Moroni (gold plates) GAK 320 (Moroni 10:4-7) The Holy Ghost testifies of Christ and the Book of Mormon.

23) Joseph Smith (temple) GAK 403 (D&C 76:22-24) Joseph Smith sealed his testimony of Jesus with his blood.

24) Rescuers of the Martin Handcart Company (quilt) GAK 415 (from the Ensign & President Hinckley video.) The young men acted as physical saviors of their people.

25) Modern Prophets (tie) GAK 520 (The Living Christ, from the EnsignPresident Monson video) I might see if I can find videos of each prophet’s final testimonies on youtube — they are all about Christ.