Were there Animals at the Birth of Jesus?

Because God loves all His creation, it’s wonderful to think that animals were there too.

Posted in , Dec 25, 2014

Nativity scene.

I love Christmas cards with images of the nativity scene. I save every one I receive in a special box, tied with a red ribbon.

They’re all so different. Elaborate Renaissance paintings, simple line drawings, gilt-edged designs, stained glass scenes, childish figure and starry silhouettes.

A common depiction–and some of my favorite parts of the images–include animals, generally a donkey, a cow and some tranquil sheep. But were there really animals present at the birth of Jesus?

The Bible includes no reference to animals at the holy scene. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a mangerthere was no room for them to stay in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

The account of Jesus’ birth is lacking in many details. It doesn’t mention the color of Mary’s dress or the details of her labor or the precise time of birth or how much the infant weighed.

The omission doesn’t preclude the possibility of their presence. Since the baby was born in a stable, I think it’s reasonable to assume that animals were near.

My favorite cards picture the donkey and the cow, right there in the forefront, looking into the manger with reverence. God’s love and care extends to all beings. Because He loves all His creation, it’s wonderful to think that animals were there too, welcoming the baby Jesus.

Nativity scene.


Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.

The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

Merry Christmas!

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