Paws for prayer: 7 amazing pictures of Jesus with animals
Why is the internet full of cat pictures? Surely it's one of the most important and challenging questions of our culture. And perhaps it's not entirely without a serious answer. The world is so serious, and social media has become our processing outlet for that, so maybe the reason why we occasionally share heart-warming silliness there is simply to counter the effect of all the head-spinning stuff we're talking about.
This week has been a huge and historic one on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, President Trump's integrity has been put on trial (perhaps for the first of many times) through the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey. And in the UK, weeks of hastily-arranged campaigning have seen the snap election backfire into a hung parliament. These are serious times, and they demand heart warming silliness.
And on that basis, it seems like the perfect time, even an important time, to scour the internet for pictures of Jesus with different animals. You need heart-warming silliness today. Et voila.
1. Jesus, bear my burdens
This image depicts the Son of God out for a midnight stroll. But like Chuck Norris, he's not the sort of guy to walk a chihuahua – so he's decided to take his pet bear with him. It's unclear whether this is one of the famous bears from 2 Kings 2 who mauled 42 young men for mocking Elisha's bald head, but if it is, presumably she's still undergoing a disciplinary from Jesus.
2. Jesus at the safari park
At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was just a depiction of the 'lion' and 'lamb' characteristics of Jesus, but such a reading sells this extraordinary image short. Don't miss the wistful-looking giraffe in the background, or the zebra who are really hoping that Aslan doesn't turn around. It's also remarkable for its wide array of children from cultures around the world: Japanese girl with umbrella, European girl with tulips, and black kid in traditional African dress. Note also their terrified parents, running towards their fragile offspring as they sit around a lion, being cuddled by a beardy man.
3. Jesus, Lord of puppies
Here's the Son of Man chilling with a few kids in the woods, seeing if he can perfect his latest 'stand a puppy on end' trick. The best thing about this picture by far is the worried look on the mother dog as she wonders if Jesus is about to turn her newborn into a cricket bat or something, just to show off.
4. Who's the King of the jungle?
Another moment when Jesus is hanging out with all the animals, and another riff on the 'lion and lamb' idea. In his rightful place as the King over all creation, Jesus is enjoying the full attention of all of the animals apart from Panda and Gorilla, who are engaged in a Mexican stand-off, possibly about the rights and wrongs of equal marriage. Wow, what a metaphor.
5. 'Let the small mammals come to me'
Since the modern world has rightly deemed the 1946 Disney hit Song of the South racist and antiquated, a gap has opened up for a remake. Here's Jesus' audition for the pivotal Zip-a-dee-doo-dah scene, as he bonds with pets from across the animal kingdom. Imagine him singing 'Iit's the truth, it's actual... everything is satisfact-ual' as dogs beg at his feet for him to feed them birds and a squirrel. This is probably not a depiction of an event that actually happened.
6. Horses in space
No, that's not a still from Xanadu, it's the Lord, surrounded by a heavenly host of angelic horses. They're charging in from every direction, apparently floating through space and time while Jesus shows off his new blonde highlights. A much darker reading of this painting has Jesus holding the disembodied heads of two decapitated ponies, but that's probably a bit Don Corleone for him.
7. His Master's Voice
Who knew there was an animated kids movie about Jesus' faithful pet dog? Well there is, and thrillingly you can watch the trailer here. In this still, the Son of Man's Best Friend appears to be intently concentrating on learning a trick, such as fetching a stick or turning mud into Pedigree Chum. Apparently, the film At Jesus' Side 'brings the teachings of Jesus to life for today's families through the story of five misfit animals on a journey towards love and forgiveness'. Sometimes the very existence of the Christian subculture makes me so happy.
Martin Saunders is a Contributing Editor for Christian Today and the Deputy CEO of Youthscape. Follow him on Twitter @martinsaunders.