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What Would Jesus Eat?

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What Would Jesus Eat?

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Although the origin of COVID-19 is still being determined, there have been quite a few other deadly outbreaks over the past several decades traced back to eating biblically unclean animals. The SARS virus came from eating horseshoe bats in China’s Guangdong province (EcoHealth Alliance). The MERS virus arose from eating camel meat in the Middle East (The Lancet). And the Ebola virus is thought to have sprung from eating infected monkeys or bats in the African Congo (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

In light of this, we should consider the Bible’s dietary laws. Did Jesus do away with these, as many suggest? What is the relevance of these laws today?

In the face of rampant sickness in the world, let’s explore some vital information about what we should and shouldn’t eat. This can help us avoid many ailments, live a healthier lifestyle and adhere to Jesus Christ’s example. As the Bible tells us, “[Christ] left you an example so that you could follow in his footsteps” (1 Peter 2:21, Good News Bible).

Health laws in the Bible align with science

God told the Israelites that in obeying His laws they would avoid many of the diseases common to other nations. This is possible through His blessing and also as the natural result of following principles of health embedded in some of the laws He gave them.

As He declared, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).

“Levitical legislation concerning foods, unique in the ancient Near East,” says the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “embodied dietary principles that accord with modern scientific discoveries” (1982, Vol. 2, p. 644).

A summary of Jesus’ diet

Jesus, as was noted, came to set an example for us, and He faithfully followed His Father’s commandments. He taught His disciples, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). Consequently, He did obey the biblical commands regarding what was and was not to be eaten.

God allowed plants and certain animals to be eaten—which had to be prepared in certain ways along with a few other restrictions.

Dr. Don Colbert, a medical doctor and New York Times bestselling author, has written 40 books on health and nutrition. In 2002 he wrote a book titled What Would Jesus Eat?: The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longer.

Dr. Colbert asks, “What can we conclude from these basic food laws about the way Jesus ate?

“First, we can conclude that Jesus ate a great many fruits and vegetables. In fact, His diet was likely rich in whole grains and whole vegetables and fruits.

“Second, we can conclude that Jesus ate only clean meat, poultry, and fish. We can also conclude from a rational look at the history of the time that He likely ate these clean meats in the proportion in which they existed at the time. Fish was plentiful, and Jesus likely ate fish as His primary meat source. Poultry was also plentiful, and that would likely have been the second most plentiful meat in Jesus’ diet. Meat—in the form of beef, lamb, and goat meat—was least plentiful, and therefore would have been the least likely meat for Jesus to have eaten [though He would have at times].

“Third, we can conclude that Jesus ate only animals that had been slaughtered according to biblical methods,
that He did not eat young animals boiled in the mother’s milk, He did not eat animal blood, and He did not eat animal fat” (p. 27).

Diseases and health conditions linked to unclean foods

Over the years, theological as well as medical researchers have increasingly recognized the benefits of following the health laws of Scripture that Jesus and His disciples continued to follow in the New Testament.

Dr. Colbert provides information on many connections that modern science has made between biblically unclean foods and poor health:


“Raw shellfish is a major source of food poisoning in our nation, and diseases commonly carried by shellfish include salmonella and the Hepatitis A virus. Shellfish have a unique ability to purify waters of pathogenic bacteria such as cholera; many of these toxins are associated with raw sewage. Clams and oysters can filter between twenty and fifty gallons of seawater a day. The toxins, however, remain in the flesh of the shellfish” (p. 38).

Catfish and bottom feeders

“Catfish caught in rivers and streams are perhaps the most contaminated of all bottom-feeding fish because they are the first to ingest the industrial pollutants that sink to the bottoms of streams and rivers.

“Like shrimp, lobsters, and all other shellfish, catfish were initially created by God to act as cleansing agents for natural water sources. These creatures have a great ability to absorb pollutants but not become sick by them. They can and do, however, pass on those pollutants to human beings who eat their flesh” (p. 58).


“Many people declare today that pork is a safe meat to eat in modern times. I disagree. Pigs eat enormous amounts of food, and this dilutes the hydrochloric acid in a pig’s stomach. This in turn allows toxins, viruses, parasites, and bacteria to be absorbed into the animal’s flesh. Besides being gluttons, swine are also extremely filthy animals. They will eat garbage, feces, and even decaying flesh. All that is eaten usually becomes part of the pig’s own flesh. Pigs readily harbor parasites including Trichinella, the pork tapeworm, and toxoplasmosis” (pp. 74-76).

Fat and blood

“One of the strict commands concerning fat is found in Leviticus 3:16–17: ‘All the fat is the Lord’s. This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor blood.’

“The Lord clearly forbade consumption of all types of fat. He was referring not to plants here, or to the fats found in fish, but to the fat from the animals declared clean for sacrifice to the Lord. All animal fat is saturated fat—it has been closely linked to elevated cholesterol as well as heart disease . . . I recommend that a person eat as little animal or dairy fat as possible. When eating meat, trim any visible fat from the meat before cooking it” (p. 77).

The fat restriction more specifically referred to clean mammals and not fish, as noted, or to birds—whereas the restriction against blood applies to both mammals and birds (see Leviticus 7:22-26). The fat prohibition further concerns the covering fat that can be removed rather than the fat marbled in the meat.

The requirement of draining meat of blood is even reiterated in the New Testament (see Acts 15:19-20, 28-29).

So, what will you eat?

The fact is, there is a clear relation between the biblical food laws and health principles that still apply today. Many sicknesses today could have been averted had people only given more consideration to what Jesus, as our prime example, would have actually eaten.

Finally, consider what God says when He gave the commands for clean and unclean foods in Leviticus 11:44-45: “For I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth. For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

By following biblical guidelines for what to eat and not eat, we will not only be more healthy, we will also be fulfilling the command to be holy as God is holy!

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