Was Jesus a vegetarian?
The Bible does not really specify what Jesus ate besides bread, figs and fish (Mat 26:26; Mark 11:12-14; Luke 24: 41-43). Jesus disciples were not that concerned to report about Jesus’ diet. It was far more important to them to preach the good news’ message: Jesus is our Savior! They were more concerned to write about a far more important food: the true bread of life: Jesus.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.
Here are a few interesting facts about food among the Hebrew people in Jesus’ times:
Bread refers to food in general in the Bible, unless it specifies “loaf of bread”.
“The food of the Israelites and Egyptians was more of a vegetable than animal kind. Flesh meat was brought forth on special occasions, as sacrificial and hospitable feasts (Gen 18:7; 43:16; Ex 16:3; Num 11:4-5; 1 Kings 1:9; 4:23; Matt 22:4). Their ordinary diet contained a larger proportion of farinaceous and leguminous foods, with honey, butter, and cheese, than of animal (2 Sam 17:28-29). Still an entirely vegetable diet was deemed a poor one (Prov 15:17; Dan 1:12). Some kinds of locusts were eaten by the poor, and formed part of John the Baptist’s simple diet (Matt 3:4; Lev 11:22). Condiments, as salt, mustard, anise, rue, cummin, almonds, were much used (Isa 28:25, etc.; Matt 23:23). The killing of a calf or sheep for a guest is as simple and expeditions in Modern Syria as it was in Abraham’s days. Bread, dibs (thickened grape juice), coagulated sour milk, leban, butter, rice, and a little mutton, are the food in winter; cheese and fruits are added in summer.
The meat is cut up in little bits, and the company eat it without knives and forks out of basohs. Parched grain, roasted in a pan over the fire, was an ordinary diet, of laborers (Lev 2:14; 23:14; Ruth 2:14). Sour wine (“vinegar”) was used to dip the bread in; or else the gravy, broth, or melted fat of flesh meat; this illustrates the “dipping the sop in the common dish” (John 13:26, etc.). Pressed dry grape cakes and fig cakes were an article of ordinary consumption (1 Sam 30:12). Fruit cake dissolved in water affords a refreshing drink.”
(from Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998 by Biblesoft)
Let’s not lose our primary focus: Jesus is our Bread of life. In other words He is our Food of life, the One who will give us eternal life. Food is eaten to keep us alive and give us energy. In the same way, Jesus made it possible for us to have eternal life. He is the One who should energize all our motives. Will you let Him?
Answer: When questions are raised, they are meant to clear doubts and confusions. Thank God for the life of this questionnaire. Answer to some questions would, of course, lead to something eternal and genuine life which will propel all of us to be tremendously blessed by the Lord will emerge!.
First of all, vegetarianism is a way of life for some people due to religious beliefs and decision to refrain from eating meat and flour. They eat animal proteins that no blood. I would not know if snails were one of these creatures (protein). In this case, therefore, a vegetarian does not eat flour. Vegetarians concentrate mainly on leaves and possibly on snails and bloodless animals. Fishes, I believe contain blood and therefore, vegetarians would refrain completely from it.
Some people enter into vegetarianism because of occult requirements. I know a singer in Nigeria who has been converted into Christianity who confessed that he was once a vegetarian because of his involvement in the occult.
After his conversion, there was no need to be a vegetarian again because the Lord Jesus had translated him from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light.
KINGDOM OF GOD
A major theme of the Bible is the kingdom of God. It runs through the Old Testament, but is more fully developed in the Gospels. Jesus showed that through him the Kingdom found its fullest meaning.
In relation to the kingdom of God, the heavenly Son of man was in fact an earthly figure, who was born in the royal line of David and had claim to the messianic throne. Because of the Jews’ misguided nationalistic ambitions, Jesus rarely spoke of himself specifically as the Messiah. By using “Son of man”, instead, he was claiming to be the Messiah without using the word Messiah. He knew people found the name ‘Son of man’ puzzling, but he wanted them to consider the evidence of his life and ministry and discover for themselves his true identity (Matt. 16:13-16, John 9:35-36, 12:34.
What Jesus ate while he was here on earth is crucial but should not confuse us.
Matthew 4:1-4 “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread”. Jesus answered, “It is written, “Man shall does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. NIV
Looking at this word critically, one can deduce the fact that the devil would want to tempt the Lord with his own food. We have been warned from scriptures that we should not take anything from the devil. At any rate, what does the devil has to offer us? If the devil should give you something, he would take it back in multiple. The devil has counterfeit!
I John 2:1-5 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world, the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” .
If you notice carefully, bread is not the substance the devil wanted to offer Jesus. He intended to insult Jesus by introducing worldliness to him.
The devil brought compromise. He brought flesh instead of the Spirit. Remember that the temptation did not stop on food. It went on to other areas of “pride” and “glory” that are to terminate in this world. Any attempt by the devil to capture you in the time of trial to lure you to sin is destruction. The Word of God you speak in any situation brought by the devil, will usher you into deliverance and power. Speak the Word to your hopeless situation in times of distress and hunger, God will come to your aid. Jesus did not succumb to the offers of the devil, and he was victorious. The devil knows you. He knows you serious need. He will like to use it against you. You should know the devil and his tactics. He is a deceiver. It was not bread that the devil wanted to offer Jesus. If you care to note, men die so easily as a result of too much love for food, women and power.
Let’s go into another instance of Jesus coming in contact with bread.
This is the feeding of the Five Thousand.
John 6: 5-9 “When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”. He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”. Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Vs. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all ha enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted”
Vs 14 “After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world”. Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
If you look closely at the above story, what Jesus wanted to achieve (even though we were not told that he ate from the gathering) are not limited to the following:
(a) Meeting your need at the time of hunger. Jesus did not want people to hunger. He had compassion because he became flesh among men. He felt the way we felt.
(b) He did not bring the message of poverty. He displayed that even though the people were hearing the Word, they should also be fed with physical food
(c) He is concerned about our need even when we do not say them out. He knows our infirmities. He will do a miracle in your life today!
(d) By this story he would give us beyond our requests if only we would be patient to listen to his teachings. His teachings, to some are hard because they lead to eternal life.
(e) The Lord Jesus blesses abundantly. That was why there were left overs.
(f) The lad that brought his meal had a reward. If you would surrender yourself there is a reward. You know, in ordinary sense, a small boy normally would not like to part with his meal. If you can sacrificially give out for the blessing of others, your giving will be multiplied Luke 6:38!.
(g) Jesus demonstrated that He could multiply the little you have released to him even today!
ANOTHER INSTANCE OF THE USE OF BREAD
The Lord’s Supper – I Cor. 11:23- 34 “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you, do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me”. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment o himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world”. NIV
Let me summarize what the Lord’s super has to offer the church:
(a) remembering the Lord’s death
(b) walking in the covenant that Jesus left for us
(c) walking in unity and holiness
(d) believing His death would give us eternal life ultimately
(e) not living carnally
Read this: There was a lady in my town who was in the occult. She used to meet with God’s children in fellowship and church programs. She had what we men would call “good life”. She was a deceiver. She was not worshipping God in Spirit and in truth – John 4:24! She ate the Lord supper unworthily – i.e. with sin and having covenant with the occult.
After vomiting for sometime, she eventually died. Medicine could not bail her out. She made confessions before her death that she was not really a Christian but a deceiver in the crowd of believers. There was prayer for mercy. She said it was too late that she had covenanted to die.
Are you deceiving yourself.? Are you just in the crowd of Christians (church) without the knowledge of who Jesus is? You must repent and believe on the Lord today. Tomorrow may be too late. Jesus has power to save and to deliver you from the flesh and the world of sin. Before her last breath she said that the Lord’s supper she partook of was the cause her death because the Scripture had warned her. Can you see the power in the Word?.
There is no record of what the diet of Jesus Christ is in the Bible. What he came to do was to teach and to preach to the world. He possibly ate, but that is not too crucial for us to bother us. He released Himself as a ransom that we might be saved from sin.
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life”:?
Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and leasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will”.
YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN TODAY!
Rev Debo Adeyemo,
Well for starters a vegetarian by definition would not eat fish. Whilst it is recorded that He did eat fish and bread I would expect that He ate whatever was common food for Jewish people in those days, and that would have been any food listed in the health laws as ‘clean’.
He Himself in His divine state as God in the Old Testament, instituted the feast of the Passover which involved the eating of a lamb which had to be killed and cooked in a certain way (with the skin and the innards intact). It had to be roast with fire, not boiled. As a Jew, Jesus would have participated in the Passover feast each year until He became the Passover Lamb. So we can tell that He did eat lamb at least once a year. However, the eating of meat was instituted into Jewish law. Sacrifices of cattle, lamb and goat etc. brought to the temple for sin offerings were to be eaten by the priesthood. That was a commandment, not a custom. My understanding of the way God deals with us is that He would never give us something to eat, much less command us to eat it, if it was bad in some way for us. (Exodus 12.)
Leviticus 7:2-AV In the place where they kill the burnt offering shall they kill the trespass offering: and the blood thereof shall he sprinkle round about upon the altar.
Leviticus 7:3-AV And he shall offer of it all the fat thereof; the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards,
Leviticus 7:4-AV And the two kidneys, and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the caul [that is] above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away:
Leviticus 7:5-AV And the priest shall burn them upon the altar [for] an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it [is] a trespass offering.
Leviticus 7:6-AV Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: it shall be eaten in the holy place: it [is] most holy.
Leviticus 7:7-AV As the sin offering [is], so [is] the trespass offering: [there is] one law for them: the priest that maketh atonement therewith shall have [it].
Leviticus 7:8-AV And the priest that offereth any man’s burnt offering, [even] the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt offering which he hath offered.
Leviticus 7:9-AV And all the meat offering that is baken in the oven, and all that is dressed in the fryingpan, and in the pan, shall be the priest’s that offereth it.
Leviticus 7:10-AV And every meat offering, mingled with oil, and dry, shall all the sons of Aaron have, one [as much] as another.
God is practical and abhors waste. These animals sacrificed to Him He gave to the priests for food. Whilst manna was the staple diet in the desert, it is also recorded that the Children of Israel also ate meat in the form of quail. Later when they became settled in their own land there is no doubt that they partook of various clean animals for food. After all they were permitted to eat them.
During the captivity in Babylon, Daniel and his companions chose not to eat the meat from the king’s table because it had been sacrificed to pagan gods. Instead, they ate ‘pulse’, a mixture of vegetables and grains. This is not an argument for vegetarianism so much as an indication that we should not eat meat defiled by being sacrificed to pagan gods.
It is recorded that Jesus attended feasts at the houses of unbelievers. Since the same Holy Spirit that guided Him also guided Paul, It would be valid to take an example from the writings of Paul and expect that Jesus would have had the same attitude. 1 Corinthians 10, tells that if we go to someone’s house to have a meal, we are not to worry about what is placed in front of us, but to ask a blessing and eat with pleasure. The idea being it is more important not to cause offence or embarrassment to the host than to worry about what goes into the stomach.
Jesus Himself told us that it is not what goes into a man’s mouth that defiles him but what comes out of it.
Matthew 15:11-AV Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
Jesus was not a vegetarian. We can be sure that he ate both fish and lamb. Since He also instituted the food laws and commanded the priests to eat the meat sacrifices, I would find it rather strange if He did not eat ‘clean’ meats in as much as they were normal fare for the Israeli people. There has been a previous question of the week concerning food and readers may check out the answers on the link provided at the top of this newsletter. Some churches make a big thing of eating and even practice vegetarianism as part of religious observance. There is no scriptural reason to do so. Eating of meat or not eating meat should be a personal choice. I am persuaded however that restriction of one’s meat intake to ‘clean’ animals wherever possible, should be taken as good advice for health reasons.
May God increase our understanding of this aspect of His holy Word.
I’m not 100% sure of this answer but I’m pretty sure the only food that Jesus eat were wine, bread, and fish, according to the New Testament.