Ox and Ass at Christ’s Manger

Ox and Ass at Christ’s Manger

The reason the ox and the ass are prominent in manger scenes is because of early Christian interpretation of Isaiah 1, and a theology of the way God in Christ overcame human rebellion through the incarnation.

We tend to hear a much squishier idea of God’s goodwill toward men at this time of year, one that ignores sin, rebellion, wrath, and a host of biblical truths that form the dark background against which Christmas joy makes sense: “In wrath remember mercy,” as Habbakuk says.

The ox and the ass stand guard at the manger as mute witnesses to the depth of human disobedience that the coming of Christ triumphs over.