What is your favorite Christmas animal? Reindeer? Camel? Donkey? Sheep? Cow? Turkey? Goose?
Some like the Cow because of the association with stables and mangers where Jesus was born. Others like the Camel. The Magi caravan undoubtedly included camels.
Some select the Donkey. Mary and Joseph likely used a donkey to help transport a near-term pregnant Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Many choose the Sheep because Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Shepherds were the first to whom Christ’s birth was publicly announced, and sheep figure prominently in manger scenes. Jesus is referred to as a lamb or sheep 33 times in the New Testament. Additionally, numerous Old Testament references to sacrificial sheep prefigure Christ. However, sheep would be better as a choice for a favorite Crucifixion animal.
Men sometimes prefer the Goat because of its tougher image, stubborn nature, and willingness to eat anything. This choice can be viewed redemptively by remembering that Jesus was our scapegoat sent outside the city to bear the sin of His people. (Leviticus 16)
Some choose the Turkey, Goose, or Pig as their favorite because for them Christmas is a time of feasting on one of these delicious animals. There’s nothing wrong with feasting, but a focus on feasting alone misses the whole point of the season—the event the feasting celebrates.
A small survey of children yielded penguin, polar bear, reindeer, horse, snowman. Our culture’s secular slant on Christmas is clearly reflected in these choices.
Probably nobody picked my favorite Christmas animal. It never appears in manger scenes, but religious sites worldwide feature it. It rarely appears on American dinner tables, but it’s a popular Asian food. This animal lays eggs, but it’s not a chicken or turkey. It figured prominently in the life of Moses, and Jesus pointed to it as a type of Christ.
What is it? Check my next blog post to find out.
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
Thursday December 18, 2008 A.D.
For the LORD gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.