It is clear from the New Testament that Jesus valued animals. He commended animal-owners for pulling their oxen out of a well even on the Sabbath. He noticed dogs playing around the table of the foreign woman. The story below comes from the Coptic tradition. It is historically true? Probably not. But it does encourage us to see Jesus as concerned for all of the Father’s Creation.
Jesus and the Mule
They came across a man with a pack-mule. But the animal had fallen because its load was too heavy, and the owner beat it so much it started bleeding. So Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why are you beating your animal? Can’t you see that it is not strong enough for its load, and don’t you know that it feels pain?’
But the man replied, ‘What is that to you? I can beat it as much as I want to, because it is my property and I paid a lot of money for it.’ …
But the Lord said, ‘Can’t you see it bleeding? Can’t you hear its cries of pain? ‘
But he said, ‘No. Can’t hear a thing.’
And the Lord was sad and exclaimed, ‘That’s bad news, that you can’t hear it complaining to its Creator in heaven, and crying to you for mercy. Very bad news for those it complains about in its distress.’ And the Lord touched the animal. It got up – its wounds healed!
Jesus then said to its owner, ‘Now carry on your way and don’t beat the animal anymore, so that you too will find mercy.’
– Roderic Dunkerley, Beyond the Gospels, London: Pelican, 1957, 143-144 (Quoted in Hobgood-Oster, The Friends We Keep, 108-109, and rendered into modern English by Ted Witham