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  • Writer's pictureChapman Chen

Jesus was Born among Animals. Go Vegan! By Chapman Chen, HKBNews

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Jesus was born among animals; He cared about animals; and He died for animals. The message of Christmas is love, which is also what veganism is about. Follow Jesus' example and go vegan this Christmas! Amen!

Jesus' Manger Scene

Jesus' nativity scene (manger scene) had long been prophesized by Isaiah and Habakkuk: "The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's manger; Israel has no knowledge, my people have no understanding" (Isaiah 1: 2-3 NIV); "O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and I feared. I have contemplated your works, and I was awestruck. In the midst of two living creatures, you will be known." (Habakkuk 3:2 Septuagint).

In the apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew it also says: "And on the third day after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the most blessed Mary went forth out of the cave, and entering a stable, placed the child in the stall, and the ox and the ass adored Him. Then was fulfilled that which was said by Isaiah the prophet, saying: The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib. The very animals, therefore, the ox and the ass, having Him in their midst, incessantly adored Him."

This interpretation is corroborated by traditional Christian artworks such as the sarcophagus of the city gate in the Church of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan (made around 380-400 AD) - also known as the 'Sarcophagus of Stilicho'. Here Jesus lies all alone in the crib, in the absence of Mary and Joseph - only protected by an ox and a donkey.

Apart from the ox and the donkey, sheep must also have been present in the manger. Don't forget it was the shepherds to whom an angel first broke the good news of Jesus' birth. They then hurried to the crib, together with the sheep which they watched over:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger... the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem... And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (Luke 2: 8-16)

Jesus' Human Life on Earth was Closely Connected with Animals

At His baptism, John the Baptist hailed Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (John 1: 29); and the Spirit of God descended on Him like a “dove” (Matthew 3: 16).

Jesus frequently showed compassion and regards for downtrodden, humble animals both in His teachings, and in His acts. What we can see in this regards in the mainstream New Testament today may only be the tip of an iceberg, given the heavy editing and manipulation to which it has been subject over the last two thousand years.

Jesus was in Peaceable Companionship WITH the Wild Animals

Jesus’s first deed after being baptized by John was not ministry amongst human beings, but triumphing over the partition between human and wild animals. "At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. HE WAS WITH THE WILD ANIMALS, and angels attended him" (Mark 1:12-13 NIV). According to theologian Richard Bauckham's (1994) "Jesus and the Wild Animals (Mark 1:13): A Christological Image for an Ecological Age,” the word "with" therein suggests a "peaceable companionship". Contrastively, ancient Jews regarded wild animals as "threats to humanity" and "the world as conflict between the human world and nature."

In Mark, Jesus harmoniously associates with the wild animals. They neither fear Him nor submit to Him nor serve Him. Jesus does not treat them as slaves or private properties. He does not terrorize or govern them. He does not domesticate them; he does not even see them as pets! The notion of humans selfishly dominating or ruling animals is totally absent here. He is just "with" them. The companionship between Jesus and the wild animals bears out the independent worth of animals and their unique status in the eyes of God. Instead of bringing them into the human society, Jesus allows them to be themselves in the wildness, affirming that animals should be left alone in Nature to share the Earth with us (cf. Chen 2021b).

Jesus' Teachings in Connection with Animals

In His sermon on the Mount, Jesus, pointing to the sparrows, tells the crowd, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care." (Matthew 10:29-31 NIV)

"Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them" (Matt. 6:26-33 KJV)

When challenged about whether it's proper for Him on Sabbath, Jesus retorts, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?

Jesus expresses His love for the hard-hearted people of Jerusalem by longing to gather them together "even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings" (Matt. 23:37 KJV)

Jesus asks people to follow Him on the ground that His yoke is easy: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy" (Matt. 11:29-30). In Jesus' time and place, and still in many parts of the modern world as well, yokes are cruelly fastened over the necks of animals as wooden harnesses and then attached to a plough or cart.

Jesus Heals a Mule

According to a Coptic Bible, Jesus heals an abused, badly beaten, exploited, and overloaded mule (Linzey and Dorothy 1998: 38-39 ;Linzey 2010: 60-61). It is indeed a precursor of modern animal activism. It shows that Jesus loves animals as much as He loves humans; that animals also have a personal relationship with God; and that those who look the other way in the face of animal cruelty or social justice are accomplices to the wrongdoing. The authenticity of this narrative is corroborated by the fact that Jesus died for the cause of animal liberation (Chen 2021a).

Jesus would not Separate a Donkey from her Child

Fulfilling the prophesy in Zechariah 9:9 NIV ("Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey"), Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:7 NIV). Before that, He "sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me." (Matt. 21:1-3 NIV). In those days, Jewish law forbade separating a colt under seven days old from his mother. Jesus' compassion for animals therefore exceeded the demands of the law (cf. Booth 2019).

Jesus Died for Animal Liberation

Jesus is a pioneer in animal liberation, and He even died for the cause.

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus admonished the Pharisees, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”.

In driving out from the Holy Temple those vendors who were buying and selling animals for cruel sacrifice (Matthew 21:12), Jesus offended the chief priests and teachers of the law, for the reason that he was disrupting their revenue stream. Immediately afterwards, "the chief priests and the teachers of the law heard about this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teachings."(Mark 11:18)

The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity by Keith Akers (2000) argues that the central event of the Christian faith, the Crucifixion, was predicated upon Christ's readiness to struggle for animal rights. Jesus Christ's rejection of animal sacrifice brought him into direct confrontation with the Temple Priests, resulting in his arrest, trial under Pontius Pilate, and crucifixion.

As for the counter-arguments that Jesus distributed fish to 5000 people in the Five Loaves and Two Fish miracle; that He ate lamb at Passover; that He ate fish in front of His disciples after resurrection , etc., they are either mistranslation or falsification (Chen 2020a; Chen 2020b).

Go vegan this Christmas for Christ is LOVE.


Akers, Keith (2000). The Lost Religion of Jesus. Lagos: Lantern Books.

Annoymous (n.d.) "Why are ox and donkey in the nativity?" Lignoma. (

Booth, Daryl (2019). "WHAT DID JESUS THINK ABOUT ANIMALS?" Million Dollar Vegan, Feb. 17. (

Chen, Chapman (2022). "Jesus didn't Eat Meat. Go Vegan!" HKBNews, Mar. 15.

Chen, Chapman (2021a). "Jesus Heals a Mule: A Coptic Bible Story." HKBNews, Dec. 3. (

Chen, Chapman (2021b). "Jesus is in Peaceable Companionship WITH the Wild Animals." HKBNews, May 17. (

Chen, Chapman (2020b). "Jesus would not Like you to Eat Lamb on Easter." HKBNews, Apr. 10. (

Linzey, Andrew and Yamamoto, Dorothy, eds. (1998). Animals on the Agenda: Questions about Animals for Theology and Ethics. London: SCM Prss, and Chicago: U of Illinois Press.

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