Follow the Vegan Christ and Celebrate Easter without Taking Life！By Dr. Chapman Chen
Summary: Jesus did not eat lamb on Passover! “I desire mercy, NOT sacrifice,” stressed Jesus. Indeed, He deliberately held the Last Supper before the Passover (John 13:1-2), and during the Last Supper, bread instead of meat was blessed by Him (Luke 2:14-20; Mark 14:22-24; Matthew 26:26-29). Even more importantly, prior to the Last Supper, Jesus, in emptying the Temple of animals about to be slaughtered for sacrifice, and in calling the Temple-turned-butcher-shop "a den of thieves", debunked the business fraud of animal sacrifice and disrupted the chief priests' and scribes' lucrative revenue stream, who immediately afterwards conspired to destroy Him (Mark 11:15-18), eventually leading to His arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection on Easter. In this sense, Jesus was a pioneer and martyr for animal liberation (cf. Akers 2000). So, let's follow Jesus and go vegan, starting from this Easter.
1. Jesus would not Like you to Eat Lamb on Easter
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke depict the Last Supper as a Passover seder, and the Hebrew Scriptures lay down lamb as the seder’s main course. As a result, it is commonly taken for granted that Jesus must have eaten lamb. However, it is certain that Jesus did not eat lamb on Passover nor on any other occasion for three reasons.
Number one, Jesus explicitly said that He desired mercy in place of sacrifice. In Matthew 9:13, Jesus admonished the Pharisees, “Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice'” (NKJV), where Jesus was echoing God in the Old Testament:- "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6 NKJV). In fact, in the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus said, "I Have come to abolish the sacrifices, and if you cease not from sacrificing, my wrath will not cease from you " (Panarion 30.16.5).
Number two, it is explicitly recorded in the Gospel of John that Jesus deliberately held the Last Supper before the Passover. "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father... he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas...to betray him" (John 13: 1-2 KJV).
"Then led [the Jewish leaders] they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover" (John 18:28 KJV).
In fact, according to the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus resolutely refused to eat lamb in the Passover. The disciples asked him, "Master, where would you like us to arrange the Passover meal?" "Do I really desire to eat flesh with you this Passover?!" replied Jesus (Panarion 30.22.4).
Number three, the gospels never suggest that lamb was present. To the contrary, they make it clear that during the Last Supper, only bread and wine, NOT meat, was blessed by Jesus.
2. What's the Cleansing of the Temple about?
Not only did Jesus not eat lamb on Passover but He also died for animal liberation afterwards.
In an event called the "Cleansing of the Temple", which is described in John 2:14-21, Mark 11:15-18, Matthew 21:12-13 and Luke 19:45-46, Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem where he found vendors selling oxen, sheep and doves and money changers doing business (John 2:14). With “a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables.” (John 2:15 NKJV). (The only animal species specified in Mark, Matthew and Mark is doves and no non-human animals are identified in Luke.) Then He reprimanded them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” (Mark 11:17 NKJV). (In the New International Version, we have “a den of robbers” instead of “a den of thieves”.) Immediately afterwards, “The chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to kill him. For they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was astonished by his teaching.” (Mark 11:18 CSB).
3. The Primary Target of Jesus's Rage
What primarily infuriated Jesus was probably those dealers in cattle, sheep and pigeons rather than those moneychangers, because of three reasons (cf. Akers 2000:117). Number one, the livestock is first and foremost on the list. In Luke, the moneychangers are not even brought up. Number two, those Jesus addressed were primarily the animal vendors. As a matter of fact, in John, He addressed ONLY the dealers in pigeons, and in Luke, He addressed ONLY "those who sold" (Luke 19:45-46 NKJV). Number three, the principal practical result of this "cleansing of the temple" was either the evacuation of the animals about to be slaughtered and handed over to the chief priests as sacrifice (John 2:15) or the driving out of those who were selling them to be slaughtered and sacrificed (Mark 11:15; Matthew 21:12; Luke 19:45).
4. "A den of Thieves" as an Allusion to Jeremiah 7
"A den of thieves" is an allusion to "Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord." (Jeremiah 7:11 NKJV). The background of this outrage of God's is "Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these’" (Jer. 7:4 NKJV).
"These lying words" echoes the lying pen of the scribes as debunked by Jeremiah earlier in the same book:- “‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? (Jer. 8:8 NIV)
"The temple of the Lord are these" probably refers to the people's oppression of strangers, orphans and widows, and shedding innocent blood (which could include not only human blood but animal blood), and stealing, murder, adultery, false swearing, and idolatry (Jer. 7:6-9). God's conclusion is a total denial, denunciation and debunking of animal sacrifice: "I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices" (Jer. 7:22 NKJV).
As for the line preceding "a den of thieves" in Jeremiah -- "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat" (Jer. 7:21 NKJV) -- it is, to quote John Wesley's Commentary, "ironical words, take those that are peculiar, and to be all burnt to me, and do what you will with them, I will have none of them. To your sacrifices - That part of your sacrifices, which you are allowed to eat, they are but as profane food." Similarly, Matthew Poole's Commentary also deems this line "ironical words of one that seems to be in a great rage". To support his point, Poole quotes Hosea 9:4, which reads "They will not pour out wine offerings to the Lord, nor will their sacrifices please him. Such sacrifices will be to them like the bread of mourners; all who eat them will be unclean. This food will be for themselves; it will not come into the temple of the Lord" (NIV).
5. The Full Puzzle Put Together
When we put together "a den of thieves", "lying words", "shedding innocent blood", "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (as said by both God and Jesus), "the chief priests and the scribes heard it and started looking for a way to kill him", the whole picture is clear:- The chief priests and scribes were a den of thieves/robbers. They were religious conmen who literally stole wealth from the believers and robbed them of their money by messing with the Scriptures in such a way that it seemed that God ordained animal sacrifices, that in order to atone for their sins and to gain favors from God, the populace got to pay dealers in animals in the Temple to shed the blood of innocent animals, and to hand them over to the chief priests and scribes, ostensibly for sacrifice, who would then get both meat (very precious in those days) and their share of the proceeds from the dealers. In this vein, Akers (2000:117) reminds us that "the temple was more like a butcher shop than like any modern-day church or synagogue".
6. "The Whole Sacrifice Business was a Fraud"
As God never required sacrifice, "the whole sacrifice business was a fraud", to borrow Akers's (2000:118) words, a lie not to be trusted. "Cleansing the temple" was an act of animal liberation not unlike Direct Action Everywhere's open rescue of animals from factory farm. By emptying the Temple of the animals about to be sacrificed, by expelling the dealers in animals out of the Temple and by quoting Jeremiah 7:11, Jesus exposed the business fraud of the chief priests and scribes and blocked their great source of income (cf. Akers 2000:117-118) . As a result, they profoundly resented Jesus and plotted to get rid of him once and for all, which eventually lead to His crucifixion. In this sense, Jesus was a pioneer and a martyr for the cause of animal liberation.
7. Other Fraudulent Stories
As regards those stories of Jesus helping His disciples to catch, the miracle of the Five Loaves and Two Fish, Jesus eating fish in front of His disciples after resurrection, Jesus declaring all foods clean, etc., they are products of either mistranslation or interpolation (see Chen 2022; Hicks 2018; Vujicic 2016; Akers 2000; Saba 2006; Dixon 2018).
In conclusion, Jesus never ate lamb or any kind of animal flesh whether on Passover or on any other occasion. He even died, at least partly, for the cause of animal liberation. The "Cleansing of the Temple" was in fact a direct action of open rescue of innocent animals from a butcher shop, which enraged those religious conmen in power who made great profits by misrepresenting God as a meat-loving deity. Although animal sacrifice is no longer practiced in Christianity nowadays, mainstream churches following Paul the religious conman instead of Jesus the Vegan Christ still treacherously maintain that meatism is allowed or even condoned by God. In reality, God is love (1 John 4:16 NIV), Jesus is compassion, go VEGAN this Easter, if you are not already vegan. Amen!
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