As a way of visually describing the ancestry of Jesus, the ‘tree of Jesse’ is the subject of many stained glass windows. Most are full of people: Jesse, his son King David, his son Solomon and so on all the way to Jesus, who is often portrayed as a child in the arms of Mary. Prophets, especially Isaiah, are usually included. It is after all Isaiah’s prophetic words in chapter 11 verse 1 that are the starting point of the ‘tree of Jesse’ theme:
‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots’.
Creating a contemporary design involved a few false starts. During a weekend painting workshop, I developed some prints and paintings from sketches of trees near where I grew up. I explored ideas such as memory, growing up, my faith journey and security. When the results resonated with the Tree of Jesse theme, one painting became the backbone of the final design.
It has been said that there is a scarlet thread that runs through the whole Bible.
One example is the account of Rahab who tied a scarlet thread in her window – she and her household were saved when Jericho was destroyed.
In this window, this ribbon of red glass represents the redeeming blood of Christ.
This blood, this DNA, physically links back to the most faithful King Israel ever had, David, and hence his father Jesse. Some of his descendants were better kings than others, sometimes the line was almost snuffed out but there had been a promise made to David. In 2 Samuel 7:16 (God’s revelation to King David through the prophet Nathan) God said,
‘Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’
What I want to express in this window is that this is not just a family tree linking Jesse and Jesus (which excludes those who are not of this very particular blood line). The picture is bigger than this because a way is made for those who are not part of the Jewish nation to be grafted in, woven into the Kingdom of God. That is what the Blood has paid for.
By faith, you and I can be part of this.