“The Son of Man has come to seek out and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
The birth of Jesus on Christmas Day brought many of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah to fulfilment. As the carol has it, the hopes and fears of all the years were met in Bethlehem that night. It was also when the promises made to Abraham and to King David, about worldwide blessings and an eternal kingdom, began to be realised.
The Bible traces the ancestry of Christ from Adam right through to the Nativity to emphasise the humanity of Christ. The family tree of Jesus that we have explored this Advent reminds us that through the Virgin Mary, God truly became one of us. Christ is not only the Son of God, but as he himself said, he is also “the Son of Man” (Luke 19:10).
The message of the Jesse Tree is also that by coming to earth, Christ came to save everyone. In his ancestry, we can find sinners and saints, kings and commoners, insiders and outsiders, Jews and foreigners, celebrities and nobodies. As St John would later write: “we have seen for ourselves and can testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14)
Above all, the family tree of Christ is the story of a royal lineage. Once in Royal David’s City, a king was born. As the prophets long foretold, a descendant of King David would one day come to retake his crown. And Christ would go on to be, not just the ruler of Israel, but “the King of kings and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:14-15).
This stained glass image of the Nativity is found within Christchurch Priory, in Eltham. Produced by the Harry Clarke firm in 1954, its simple yet colourful style is typical of the studio. It pictures the Holy Family after the birth of Christ, as the Star of Bethlehem shines down from above. The window forms part of a series illustrating the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, itself being the highest image within the sanctuary.
A Happy and Holy Christmas to you all!
See the full image: