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Nativity Misconception – The Donkey and The Lamb

P1030971After Jesus was born, they had to present Him at the temple.  The sacrifice Mary and Joseph brought was the offering of the poor – a pair of turtledoves (or pigeons).  If they could afford it, the law required a lamb and a dove (or pigeon), but Joseph and Mary did not have the means.  The could not afford to buy a lamb.

They brought the offering of the poor.

As we read the Christmas story, at times we glance this over.  It is a fact and we say, “Well, they weren’t rich”  It brings most of us comfort.  God did not choose His Son to be born to the super rich.  He chose an ordinary man and woman who were extraordinary on the inside.  It brings great hope to us who feel ordinary and know with God in our lives, we too can do the extraordinary – just like Joseph and Mary.

But, lets pause and consider what this meant to Joseph.  He had been called to raise the Son of God.   I wonder if Joseph asked “why” he didn’t have the resources to buy a lamb.  Did he pray for the means to buy a lamb for the Son of God’s offering?

I wonder.

Did Joseph weep when he realized there was no way he would be able to purchase a lamb?  Did he feel unworthy?

Sacrifices were huge to the Jewish people.  If he did pray was he met with silence from God?  Or did he get a clear “no” from Daddy?

I wonder if Joseph struggled with this.  I bet he did.  We read the “facts” of the Christmas story but most of the time fail to dive deeper.

Joseph couldn’t buy a lamb.  But guess what.  He had a lamb.  He had a lamb right there in his arms – Jesus.  Our Passover Lamb.  Daddy didn’t want Joseph to be able to afford a lamb because the Lamb was right there.   And yes, this Lamb WOULD be sacrificed.


But lets get back to the Christmas story.  We always see Mary riding a donkey in the movies.  We read about it.  We picture it.  Mary, nine months pregnant, riding a donkey to Bethlehem.

But wait.  A donkey is not in the Biblical text.  It does not say how Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem.  And they were poor.  They couldn’t even afford a lamb, much less a donkey.  Owning a donkey was like owning a Hummer.  NOT in Mary and Joseph’s budget.

Mary probably walked.

Doesn’t fit out nativity picture does it?   We are comfortable with out Christmas pageant “vision” of the manger scene, but what we visualize was probably not the case.

It was HARD.  Daddy let Jesus be born into a family where things didn’t really come EASY.


So the Son of God could sympathize with us.  What does scripture say?

That He “sympathizes with our weakness.”  Hebrews 4:15

So the next time you look at a Nativity and see a donkey . . .

. . .know it was HARD.

Life is HARD.

But the Lamb is right there.  Even when times are HARD.  Even when what you visualize is not necessarily what you are living.  He is there.  He knows the timing.  Cling to this truth.

Merry Christmas


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This article was written by Nic