Mary Had a Little Lamb

The Story Behind ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Have you heard about the nursery school song “Mary had a little lamb”? Is it about Jesus? What does the song talk about?

Stay tuned to learn more about whether the song “Mary had a little lamb” is about Jesus and more about its meaning.

Is “Mary Had a Little Lamb” About Jesus?

No, the nursery school poem ‘Mary had a little lamb’ is not about Jesus but is based on a true story involving Mary Elizabeth Sawyer.

Mary Sawyer was born in 1806 on a farm in Sterling, Mass. In 1815, when Mary was nine years and helping his father with farm chores, they discovered a sickly newborn lamb in the sheep pen that the mother had abandoned. Finally, the father agreed, and against the odds, Mary could nurse the lamb back to health.

After that, the lamb, with white fleece-like snow, used to follow Mary anywhere she went. In the 1880s, decades after the incident, Mary reported, “In the morning, much to my girlish delight, it could stand; and from that time, it improved rapidly. It soon learned to drink milk; and from the time it would walk about, it would follow me anywhere if only I called it.”

About Jesus?

Sometime later, not knowing when exactly, Mary was going to school with her brother when the lamb followed them. The siblings didn’t try much to prevent the lamb from following them and even hauled it over a large stone fence when crossing to get to the Redstone School.

Once in class, Mary kept her pet a secret under her desk and covered her with a blanket. However, when Mary was called to go to the front of the class to recite her lessons, the lamb popped out of its hiding place and loped up the aisle.

The lamb was shooed out, and it waited for Mary outside the class until lunchtime when she took her home. The following day, John Roulstone, a student in the same school and one/two years older, handed Mary a piece of paper with a poem he’d written about the previous day’s occurrences. The poem was later published and came to know as “Mary had a little lamb.”

The Religious Meaning Of “Mary had a Little Lamb”

Also, “Mary had a little lamb” may have had a religious meaning. Some believe the lamb represents Jesus.

Jesus was born in a humble background for reasons. During his time, certain animals had much significance in the worship of Israel people. The lamb stands out as of prime importance. Every Jew who lived in Jesus’ days knew the value of lambs in Israel’s worship.

Every day two lambs were slaughtered, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, as a general offering for the sins of the people. All the sacrificial lambs were symbols of the one lamb who would bring salvation to Israel and the nations.

In the new testament, John wrote about Jesus declaring who he was and why he came to earth. He says in John 1:29:

“Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

According to Matthew 1:21-23, Mary’s little lamb (Jesus), who will be known as Immanuel (God with us), will save his people from their sins. The Bible declares Jesus Christ as a special, sacrificial, and saving lamb.

Jesus died on the cross and came alive from the tomb after three days (Matthew 28:1-6). He is still alive (Hebrew 7:25).

From that time henceforth, Christ has the power to save lost sinners. Lost sinners can turn to Jesus, who will save their souls. Here are things that christ can do in the heart and life of sinners who come to him by faith:

  • Cleanes sins – according to Psalms 102:12 and 1 John 1:7, Jesus’ blood can wash away sins forever. When you place your faith in him and accept his death and resurrection as the payment of your sin debt, he will wash you in his blood, and your sins will no longer be a problem.
  • Converts souls – when a sinner turns to Jesus for salvation, God takes that life very far from God and brings it near the Lord. This is explained in detail in Ephesians 2:12-13. 

When Jesus does his saving work in your soul, he makes you appeal to God and lets you enter an intimate relationship with God.

you into a close relationship with God the father.

  • Changes sinners – when Jesus Christ saves you, he also changes you. Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Everything changes and will never be the same again as Jesus takes even the worst sinners and turn them into the best saints.Mary Had a Little Lamb


So, is “Mary had a little lamb” about Jesus? No, “Mary had a little lamb” is not about Jesus. The poem is based on a true ancient story about Mary Elizabeth Sawyer, who, together with her dad, discovered a sick lamb in their sheep pen. Mary nursed the lamb back to health, which followed her wherever she went.